Hunting Group Wants Rhinos in Texas... for "Safekeeping"

The Exotic Wildlife Association (EWA) and have hatched a plan to fly 1,000 of South Africa’s orphaned white rhinos—about 6 percent of that country’s white rhino population—to private ranches in South Texas.

EWA claims the rhinos will be safer in South Texas than South Africa, which is currently under an epidemic of poaching. The idea, though, is not to place them in a sanctuary, but rather to farm them out to private ranches and to breed them. EWA Executive Director Charly Seale claims “These animals will never be in commerce, they will not be sold, they will not be hunted.”

If the plan seems dubious, it might be because the motto of the EWA is “promoting conservation through commerce.” Read that last word to mean “trophy hunting,” as EWA represents game ranches, and its partners include the Dallas Safari Club, the Houston Safari Club, and the International Professional Hunters Association. The EWA often opposes government efforts to protect endangered species, and it fights to maintain the right to gun down endangered antelope and other species on game ranches, primarily in Texas. (For more on these ranches, see the Summer 2012 AWI Quarterly.) In other words, it’s a little like the fox agreeing to rehome the chickens.