This story does a pretty good job of representing many of the opinions that people have about trophy hunting. While I can understand and appreciate the idea that any killing of animals is bad, if you truly look at the statistics it seems as though controlled, systematic killing of black rhinos can have a beneficial effect on their populations.
I'd like to add something about the concept of hunting. First of all, I have absolutely zero experience in hunting so I can't say anything about the actually activity. Nevertheless, people, including myself, have unrealistic stereotypes about people who hunt. This story sort of changed my opinion of hunters because, if what the hunter in this podcast said about them is true, they must value the survival of species as much, if not more, than I do.
I agree. We tend to think of hunters as killing for the sake of killing, but they seem to have a lot of respect for the animal, and incentive to keep them alive. I don't love the thought that they want to keep the species alive so they can continue to kill individuals - I'm a firm believer in their intrinsic value - but if we come to the same conclusion and work to further conservation efforts, it's okay with me.
With less and less people spending time and having experiences outside, there seems to be less incentive to keep endangered species alive. If hunting animals fuels conservation efforts when nothing else will, I see little problem in it.
This definitely gave me a different perspective when it comes to keeping endangered species alive, and hunting. It does a good job of illustrating that it's not as black and white as one would think, and poses some ethical questions regarding the value of an individual's life in comparison to the value of the continuation of the species. Although I've never been comfortable with the idea of trophy hunting, I think the system that they discussed in the story made a lot of sense. It is beneficial to the survival of the species as a whole and as an added bonus, it helps the country by creating economic benefit to the animals. However, I can also see the other side. Auctioning off permits to kill endangered species is not sending the right message about conservation because it's taken out of context. If it continues to happen, I think the public needs to be educated about why it's being done and how it's helping the black rhino.
i kinda feel like. the african plains were naturally able to sustain themselves for centuries and centuries pre-colonialism? and hunting, mainly from rich, white, privileged people looking for a conversation piece, has killed a lot of species, almost to extinction, and trying to resolve that problem with the same methods just really doesn't do it for me. hunting has a lot of room to grow into our current world, because it seems like it's stuck in the nineteenth century right now.
the word "hunter" in this episode seems like it's being misused - these "hunters" seem more like poachers who are only allowed to get away with things like this because they're rich and white. trophy hunting is not justifiable, and this episode felt, unfortunately, very heavy-handed in trying to convince the listener that it is. the need that the focus of this episode (cory, i believe? sp?) expresses to assign a dollar amount to something to give it value is kinda…. gross, and it kinda feels like a “get out of guilt free” card that allows him to hurt endangered species.
the episode also spent almost all of its time letting the hunter rationalize his bloodlust and barely allowed for any other perspectives. hunting by delusional white neocolonialists is not the only method to conserve endangered species - far from it, actually. i heard no alternatives to hunting that would aid in conservation, and no interviews with conservation biologists, ecologists, etc, or anyone who was certified to talk about conservation with facts, data, and credible information.
the whole "the males rhinos are too aggressive!!!11!" made me. actually kinda really mad? it reminded me a lot of when you hear things like "shark-infested waters." the waters aren't infested - that's where the sharks live. and that's just how those rhinos are, and it's none of peoples' business (let alone some convoluted justification for the 1% to pointlessly murder them in such an egotistical, imperialist way). if you don’t like what the animals are doing, go back to your cushy upper-class life and live it out without forcing yourself into their lives.
anyway, no matter the argument, i find it very hard to believe that killing these animals has anything to do with conservation, but rather that it's just another mean of legitimizing and endorsing wealthy peoples' (read: westerners’/whites’) quote-unquote "right" to hunt and kill animals. these people are not using these animals for food or shelter, but for their own entertainment, and if they genuinely cared about the animals, they would be contributing to their conservation without killing them. i am… a little bitter that i lost an hour of my life listening to this, frankly.
OK. It seems very counter-intuitive to be killing animals to increase their populations, but I suppose that it is working. To see a 30% increase in the population is not what I would have expected of this method of hunting specific males rhinos. I mean, it makes sense, since the aggressive ones are being targeted and killed to allow for easier growth of the community of rhinos, but it makes me wonder what's natural for them. I mean, I think that if humans are poaching these rhinos (which was unclear to me?), then I believe that we are responsible for increasing their previous numbers or providing them with the space they need to live a natural life. Plus, animals are meant to go extinct eventually. I understand that humans have increased extinction rates, but doesn't a species have to eventually disappear without our influence? Maybe I'm just naive and not truly seeing the problem, or maybe I just think that this specific problem is not the most significant thing to be worrying about. Although, this rhino problem is very similar to the idea of selling tags in the US to raise money for federal wildlife agencies to manage land and restore habitats. Why don't we just budget that funding from the government and other, seemingly less invasive methods of funding? Although I suppose everything we do is invasive. Can anything humans do be right? I am rambling at this point. I think this podcast just made me confused about how I feel.
This Radiolab made a good point, in the fact that the animals that are being targeted for trophy hunting are those that are aggressive and older. It also made a good point, that these conservation agencies place a high value of money on game tags. The money that they get from these tags goes to restoration and conservation of these animals. It makes sense that these agencies need a way to raise the money to protect these species, that sometimes are endangered, like in Corey's case hunting the black rhino. People who hunt don't necessarily hunt just for trophies. Many people do it for food, and for a job. I think there are pros and cons to hunting, especially trophy hunting. Anyways I have listened to this radiolab three times and I am still trying to wrap my mind around it all.
Corey kinda frustrates/confuses me with his whole opinion on “hunting is a part of who humans are” and “it’s a privilege to go hunting; not my right to go out and take away some animals life”. How exactly is hunting a privilege? I am genuinely curious because I’ve never been hunting, so I’m curious to learn more about what he exactly meant by that. For me, it has also been morally wrong for me to kill animal. Except after hearing the statistics about the animals having fairly significant increases in their populations, I’m pretty surprised. I would’ve never guessed wildlife numbers on private land have gone up nealy 80% due to the government allowing trophy hunters to come in and kill them, along with that the black rhino pop has grown 30% since it was legalized to kill them. Except this makes me think about ALL of the endangered species worldwide (that hunters would actually want to hunt for - not animals like pikas), what if this method of “killing to conserve” doesn’t work for all the other animals. I know it’s legal to hunt endangered species if you can prove it’ll help, but again, what if it doesn’t? Life is full of “what ifs” and hunting is one of those questions where there are many ethical questions involved, and it’s not black and white, and rather an extremely grey area.
Overall, I am conflicted. I really liked Sophie’s reply about other perspectives and the whole Corey issue, but I can’t argue with the statistics with that it’s actually been beneficial to their populations.
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