South Africa allowing trophy hunters to kill more endangered black rhinos

South Africa allowing trophy hunters to kill more endangered black rhinos
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A new policy in South Africa will allow trophy hunters to kill more endangered black rhinos, a controversial move backed by multiple nations and criticized by some wildlife groups. 

The change caps the number of black rhinos allowed to be killed by trophy hunters at 0.5 percent of the black rhino population, which would be nine adult males under today’s numbers, The Washington Post reported Wednesday. The country had previously had a quota allowing trophy hunters to kill five rhinos a year. 

The change was made at the Conference of the Parties for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). 

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The move comes as the black rhino population slowly recovers after drastic, 96 percent population decline between 1970 and 1992. There are an estimated 5,042 to 5,455 black rhinos worldwide, with a large population in South Africa, according to the International Rhino Foundation. 

Save the Rhino warned that the change based on population size could harm the rhino population due to the threat of poaching. 

“To increase confidence, more regular updates on populations need to be reported, with provincial breakdowns, more promptly,” the organization said on its website.

But South Africa and others that support the change, including wildlife tracking monitoring organization TRAFFIC, argue that it can help with the population growth as aging male rhinos can be territorial and interfere with mating female rhinos and younger rhinos, the Post reported. 

Additionally, funds from the permits, which are typically purchased by foreigners, can go toward anti-poaching and other wildlife conservation measures, the paper reported. 

The policy was reportedly supported by Canada, the European Union and six African nations that surround South Africa. 

“On the face of it, increasing the trophy hunting quota at a time when poaching of rhinos in South Africa is rampant might seem a rash move, and clearly curtailing indiscriminate poaching must remain a conservation priority,” Richard Thomas, a spokesman for TRAFFIC, said in a statement to the Post. 

“However, there are sound biological reasons why careful, selective removal of older, post-breeding males — a process that can also raise conservation funds through selling the trophy hunting rights — enables younger, more vigorous bulls to come through and boosts overall breeding success and productivity of a population.”