There is a poaching crisis in Africa at this time, but rhino numbers are still growing in Namibia and the Republic of South Africa. At CITES CoP16, the African Rhino Specialist Group of SSC/IUCN and TRAFFIC reported to the Secretariat on the Status, Conservation and Trade of Rhino, Doc. 54.2 (Rev.1) Annex 2. They reported that, “[d]espite high and increasing levels of poaching, both rhino species have continued to increase in the wild, with white rhino up from 17,475 in 2007 to 20,165 (Dec. 2010) and black rhino up from 4,230 in 2007 to 4,880” range-wide. South Africa had more black rhino than Namibia, 1,915 compared to 1,750. But only 171 of South Africa’s black rhino were of the southwestern D.b. bicornis subspecies, while Namibia had 1,750. This is the subspecies of black rhino that was hunted and permitted. No more than one or two rhino a year, white and black rhino combined, have been poached in Namibia from 2009 through September of 2012, while South Africa has had 122, 333, 448 and 425 poached during the same period. (The populations in both countries are still substantially increasing.) Namibia has been developing a security strategy to increase protection of its elephants and rhinos. There is little doubt that an increase in the revenue from hunting of black rhino due to the entry of the US safari hunting market will boost security measures and local incentives. The greater revenue can go a long way to averting a growth in poaching in Namibia. Namibia has more black rhino (1,750) than white (469), so black rhino are the expected beneficiary.
For those hundreds of hunters who will eventually hunt these rhino during the decades to come, it promises to be the ultimate Big Five-type hunt. To cite Peter Hathaway Capstick, “Hunting in rhino country is rather like treading through an old minefield...he can and will kill you….The rhino has a very simple philosophy: If anything gets in your way, knock it down and gore it.” In Death in the Long Grass Capstick described them as “unpredictable” and said that he could not “recall a single instance of meeting a rhino that suspected my presence in which the animal did not advance….The slightest sound, such as the click of a camera or rifle safety, will be heard and will precipitate a full charge. The rhino is gifted with astonishing speed and incredible grace for an animal that may weigh three tons, the second largest of the land animals.” There is little doubt that it can be a truly remarkable safari experience to know the black rhino as only a hunter can.