As recently as the mid-1990s, there were only an estimated 2,400 black rhinos in the wild, down from a high of about 65,000 in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Conservation efforts over the past decade have increased the black rhinos numbers to an estimated 3,600 to 11,000 animals.
With the resurgence in numbers, South Africa and Namibia have been pushing to re-open very limited trophy hunting of the black rhinos, and in October the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species agreed to both country’s proposals to resume extremely limited hunting of black rhinos.
Both South African and Namibia requested annual quotas of five black rhinos. Both countries believe they will be able to sell the right to kill the small number of rhinos for tens of thousands of dollars per animal which they will be able to use to help fund their conservation efforts. Both countries say that they will restrict hunters to killing older, non-breeding males to avoid any long-term impact on the size of the black rhino herds.
Still, animal rights activists and environmentalists complained that even a very small hunt is likely to encourage potential poachers. Jason Bell-Leask of the International Fund for Animal Welfare told Reuters,
We know rhinos are still being poached for their horns and the poachers are indiscriminate, so we think this proposal sends out the wrong signal.
Limited rhino hunt allowed in SA, Namibia. Afrol News, October 4, 2004.
African nations seek to end black rhino hunting ban. Stuff (New Zealand), September 20, 2004.
Global ban on black rhino hunt is eased. Reuters, October 4, 2004.