Annual hunting and export permits for large game, including 10 highly endangered black rhinoceros and a corresponding number of leopards, have been given by the South African government.
It also granted authorization to kill more than 100 elephants in accordance with international laws on the trade of endangered species, claiming that the elephant population was rising and that just 0.3 percent of elephants were hunted each year.
“A total of ten black rhinos and 150 elephants may be hunted,” the forestry and environment ministry said.
Trophy hunting is utilised to fund conservation in countries like Botswana.
Black rhino are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as critically endangered. But numbers of black rhino in the wild have doubled to more than 5,000 from a historic low three decades ago.
The government said its allocated quota for rhino was based on population estimates, “which show an increasing trend at present”.
Poaching of white rhino reached crisis levels between 2014 and 2017, when a thousand were killed on average each year. Those numbers dropped by half to 451 last year.
The animals are slaughtered for their horns, which are smuggled into Asia where they are mistakenly believed to have medicinal benefits.
The South African government said leopard hunts would be restricted to animals aged seven years and older, and allowed only in regions where the large cat populations were “stable or increasing”.
Hunting is big business in South Africa, bringing in around 1.4bn rand ($92m) in 2019, the government said.
Proceeds from government-approved annual hunting quotas go towards local marginalised and impoverished rural communities where the hunts happen.
This article was first published by The Guardian on 26 February 2022. Lead Image: South Africa has given permission to hunt 10 critically endangered black rhinoceros. Photograph: Baz Ratner/Reuters.
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