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


Don't Be Quick To Discard Common Core

Let's not be too quick to discard Common Core. A recent article in the Tennessean on  Sunday detailed Common Core successes the Kingsport, Tennessee school system.  I encourage you to read it.  The article also noted that Tennessee was recently ranked as one of the fastest improving states in education after implementing portions of the Common Core curriculum ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Our Tubman Goat-Roping

Every spring there comes a bright day on the ranch when the straw-boss decrees a goat-roping should take place. What really happens is the veteran cowboys arm the greenhorns with some lariats late in the afternoon and take them to the pen that holds some Billy goats. This is before they get into bigger beasts -- horses and cattle – yet what appears to be easy most certainly is not. ... (click for more)

Ladaquis D. Southers, 29, Arrested In Connection With Murder Of Terrence Bivens

Ladaquis D. Southers, 29, has been arrested in connection with the homicide of 28-year-old Terrence Lebron Bivens. Southers was arrested in Atlanta by the U.S. Marshals Southeast Regional Task Force on Friday.  He is awaiting extradition back to Hamilton County.  He will be charged with criminal homicide and unlawful possession of a firearm. The victim ... (click for more)

Grote Hall At UTC To Reopen Tuesday After Sinkhole Is Deemed To Pose No Danger

Grote Hall at UTC will reopen on Tuesday after a thorough inspection determined that a sinkhole posed no danger. The campus building was closed on Monday with all classes cancelled. But classes are back on for Tuesday and employees are to report. Officials said the sinkhole was caused by a broken section of stormwater piping that serves the nearby Holt Hall. It was found ... (click for more)

Vols' Jones: Vanderbilt Will Present Various Challenges

Tennessee football coach and selected players met with the media Monday during the Vols’ weekly press conference at Neyland Stadium. The coach and players – linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin and defensive back Cameron Sutton discussed last week’s loss to Missouri and the upcoming Southeastern Conference finale against rival Vanderbilt in Nashville. The Vols 5-6, 2-5 SEC) ... (click for more)

Missouri Hangs On, Turns Back Tennessee, 29-21

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Missouri pin-pricked Joshua Dobbs’ bubble of invincibility Saturday night at Neyland Stadium. The nationally ranked Tigers drove a stake in Tennessee’s heart with Maty Mauk’s 73-yard touchdown pass to Jimmie Hunt in the fourth quarter, held Dobbs in check most of the game and beat the Vols, 29-21, before 95,821 fans on a chilly night on the banks of the Tennessee ... (click for more)