Roy Exum: Ever Shot A Rhinoceros?

Monday, January 13, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

An interesting auction was held in Dallas on Saturday night and someone who attended – we don’t know who – submitted a winning bid of $350,000 during a dinner at the Dallas Safari Club for the chance to shoot a black rhinoceros. The south African nation of Namibia, a sparsely-populated nation found at the lower left of the continent, has assured a valid permit despite the fact the huge animal is on the verge of extinction after first emerging into the world seven or eight million years ago.

While shooting a rhinoceros sounds like about as much fun as plugging a city bus, the idea to allow a rich American sportsman to shoot one of the beasts is a novel approach in an effort – get this -- to save the animal from extinction. Scientists have proven time and time again American hunters do our country a great conservation service every year with carefully-controlled seasons and bag limits on deer, ducks, quail and other wildlife.

In Namibia they have a far different problem. There are some who believe the rhino’s horn, ground into powder, can cure cancer and can provide all types of mystical healing. Poachers use helicopters to swoop down on a rhino, shoot it with a tranquilizer stronger than heroin and then follow it until it falls. The poacher is then paid a staggering amount to use a chain saw to cut off the horn and part of the animal’s jaw for the prized protein keratin. Tragically the maimed rhino usually dies.

What’s worse is that Namibia doesn’t have the resources to stop the poachers – there are attempts by the desperate and the hungry almost every day -- so the $350,000 that a Dallas fat cat paid for the permit will all go to the Namibian Game Products Trust Fund. The hunter will still have to pay his own way to the African nation, hire a guide, and equip his own safari.

The government also reserves the right to select which animal is to be targeted – it seems the beasts are very territorial and an old bull that can no longer mate will still fight any young bulls that come around his cows. Several rhino become detrimental to the herd every year and scientists believe if they are eliminated the species may rebound.

For the record, a black rhino is about six feet tall at the shoulder, 9-to-12 feet long and averages roughly 2,500 pounds in weight. While they are very fast (up to 35 mph), they have terrible eyesight and will charge anything if they are spooked – tree stumps, termite mounds, or anything else. Rhinos also have the highest combat mortality of any animal known; 50 percent of the males and 30 percent of the females are killed fighting one another – they have no other natural predators other than man.

The Dallas Safari Club was delighted to be chosen to sell the permit but has received a heavy rash of criticism from welfare groups. About 40 protesters picketed the Saturday event and the FBI is said to be investigating death threats to some members.

“This auction is telling the world that an American will pay anything to kill a species,” Jerry Flocken of the International Fund for Animal Welfare told the Dallas Morning News. “This is, in fact, making a spectacle of killing an endangered species.

But television’s Stephen Colbert had the best comment, suggesting that instead a permit to shoot a member of the Dallas Safari Club be auctioned instead. “It would raise a lot more money and the world wouldn’t miss the sacrificed member one bit. Thinning the club would probably also make it much stronger and give it an incentive to come up with better ideas for conservation,” he reportedly quipped.

Other comments were equally entertaining. “Texas ranchers do this all the time. When a longhorn gets too old they turn it into hamburger meat. What’s the difference,” was one response while another suggested a rhinoceros head hanging from the wall in some guy’s study was “ghoulish and barbaric. If you want to prove what a tough man you are then go out and fight without your 50-caliber rifle. Use your fists.”

If and when a hunt is arranged, the permit holder will have to pass background checks and the animal chosen “will have to be approved as beneficial to the species’ conservation for the government to allow the trophy inside U.S. borders.”

royexum@aol.com


Thank You District Five Residents

Dear Residents of District Five, Thank you for affording me the opportunity to represent you for nine years as a member of the Hamilton County School Board. The goal of educating of our children must be one of our greatest priorities. I look forward to working with our new school board member and members of the community to help our young men and women succeed in school ... (click for more)

Shine The Light On IDB Board Members

The recent news that IDB member Chris Ramsey is not a city resident makes me wonder what kind of accountability do these people have to the taxpayers? I've posed the question before: Who is on the board? Since it is such a mystery as to who is on the board and whether they are even legitimately qualified to sit on the board, how can they be trusted to handle millions of taxpayer ... (click for more)

Rhasean Lowry, 34, Charged In Death of 3-Year-Old Girl

Rhasean Lowry, 34, was arrested for abusing a three-year-old girl, and then criminal homicide after she died. Last Tuesday, the Chattanooga Police Department was called on a suspected child abuse case. Lowry took the victim to a local hospital and he stated the victim fell down steps. Doctors advised that the victim’s injuries were the result of blunt force trauma consistent ... (click for more)

City IDB Member Who Made Motion For $9 Million Black Creek TIF Had Not Lived In City For Years

A City Industrial Development Board (IDB) member who made the motion to approve a controversial $9 million Black Creek Tax Increment Financing (TIF) had not lived in the city for years, City Attorney Wade Hinton confirmed. Chris Ramsey, a BlueCross BlueShield official, was not present at an IDB meeting on Tuesday morning. Five other board members were. Citizen Helen Burns ... (click for more)

Silverdale Dishes Out 3-1 District 5-A Volleyball Victory

Silverdale Baptist Academy’s volleyball team served up a four-set victory over District 5-A rival Chattanooga Schools for the Arts and Sciences on Tuesday. The Lady Seahawks got a combined 17 service aces from Molly Rumfelt and Caroline Couch and posted a 3-1 win over the Lady Patriots at Silverdale. The set scores were 25-15, 25-18, 22-25, 25-11. Rumfelt, the only senior ... (click for more)

Uninspired Ooltewah Sweeps Soddy Daisy In Key 5-AAA Match

It's a real challenge for a high school volleyball team to get up emotionally and physically to play the same team two matches in a row, especially when the first one was somewhat lopsided. But that was what the Ooltewah Lady Owls had to do Tuesday evening when they visited District 5-AAA rival Soddy Daisy. Ooltewah improved to 12-2 overall and 4-0 in 5-AAA with the three-set ... (click for more)