In Africa, there's a classification of elephants known as "great tuskers," who carry ivory weighing more than 100 pounds with a value in the tens of thousands of dollars. These giants are sought aggressively by poachers for obvious reasons, and Satao, believed to be the largest of the great tuskers living in Kenya, was recently found poisoned and mutilated with tusks removed.
Kenya reported 302 elephants poached in 2013 alone, most sought exclusively for their tusks, sold and traded in the Black Market ivory circles. Kenyan officials are classifying the poaching situation as a "national disaster," escalated due to a recent influx in poaching incidents and a long-standing history of leniency in the judicial system.
But elephants don't stand alone in regard to being considered valuable targets for poachers. Black rhinos now number less the 5,000 in the world due to aggressive poaching efforts to reap and sell their highly coveted horns.
Help From Hunters
The Dallas Safari Club recently entered a knowingly heated battle by working with the Namibian government to auction a black rhino tag for a specific black rhino, returning 100 percent of the profit back Namibia for anti-poaching efforts. That tag sold for $350,000. The rhino targeted: An old, territorial male beyond breeding age that was aggressively killing younger males and preventing still others from breeding.
In the eyes of the misinformed, hunters and poachers are not so different, and emotion often clouds hard facts and scientific data. Is the legal hunting of a single rhino that's destroying his own species the same as the slaughter of hundreds of rhinos annually for the sake of illegally selling their horns? The two hardly parallel—and that's not even mentioning the $350,000 allocated directly back to protecting the species. Or, is the high-dollar sale of an elephant license—where the money goes back to conservation and the meat goes to feed local villages for weeks—the same as the slaughter of Satao for just his tusks?
There's heavy debate around all these topics right now, but one thing is for sure: Hunters despise these poachers more than anti-hunters despise conservation-minded sportsmen.
If money were not an issue, would you hunt in Africa if given the opportunity? Join the forum conversation here.