Bow Hunting Rhino for conservation? [179 Days]

The problem with criminals is that they simply refuse to obey laws… it’s kind of a character flaw they have. Telling them to stop doing what they are doing, simply doesn’t work. The same with people that are hungry… its really difficult to leave food alone that you see just standing there. It’s ten times more difficult if you have a hungry child.

If something gets monetised, it gets protected. Wildlife is such an obvious example of this. Whether for eco-tourism, breeding programs or hunting, it tends to ensure positive growth of the species in a specific environment.

A big part that is generally ignored by anti-hunters (as an example) is what it takes to raise and protect both the specific animal, and the environment they live in. Animals do not live in isolation. You can’t grow a rhino in a pot like a tomato plant, and even then, you need a pot, soil, some sunlight, and more than a bit of care

Not only do you need to establish a suitable and balanced environment, you need to ensure gene pools remain suitable diverse. Then you need to have physical security to protect from criminals and poachers (both human and animal) All this still assumes mother nature plays along. But what happens when drought hits? Where does the food and water come from then?

This is a complex, and above all, expensive venture.

So when the keyboard activist shouts in CAPITAL letters: “PROTECT OUR RHINOS!! “

I have to ask a few things…

When did you get a Rhinoceros?

Do you mean those that belong to “the Country”? Because I don’t know of many Rhinos in the wild… generally they belong to individuals or they exist in state run reserves…

What do you mean by “Protect”?

I assume you mean those wide angle media pics with a guy carrying an assault weapon in front of a peacefully grazing rhino (sans horn) – If you think about it a bit, though… How do you protect children in places of safety, for instance? Do you put them in a fenced off area with a guard? Or do they get some schooling? How about some food? Clothes? A place to stay? Are they not actually supposed to be protected from life by being provided with the resources to stay alive, and hopefully thrive? You might not believe me… but animals are the same!

But who is supposed to do the protecting?

This is always a fun one… I generally get an answer like “there are people that do that kind of thing”

Who are these mythical people? …and how do they survive and pay their bills at the end of the day? Who pays for their food, and cars, and toilet paper? Where does the money come from? If a Keyboard Conservationist will engage in actual conversation, we always end up with funding for projects coming from donations… Unfortunately, that is simply not sustainable. Will you rather give money to a rhino, or a little kid who lost his house in a hurricane? Donations can surely make up a shortfall, but it’s definitely not a stable source of income. John Hulme (one of the biggest Rhino breeders in Africa) commented that the security for the rhinos alone cost over US$170,000 per month…

Who is paying for this protection?

Not the government, and not the keyboard conservationists. Private individuals are doing it.

Considering that a Rhino eats 50kg of food per day per Rhino + about 12liters of water per day. That about 4 and a half tonnes of food – for my imperial friends… that’s about 10,000lbs per month for a breeding pair and baby rhino.

Luckily, thanks to guys like John Hulme, we know exactly what a 5 year breeding program cost, and it’s staggering. The cost of a 5 year program with 100 breeding cows is ZAR 653,000,000 (or about $53,000,000 – that’s right, Fifty Three Million United States Dollars!) and that is if things goes more or less right. That will hopefully give you about 100 rhinos in a 5 year period if all goes well.

In Keyboard Activist terms… that is 13 million Starbucks Frappuccinos or 16 million green teas, for 100 rhinos… so…

37,000 people must give up their daily coffee for a year and donate the money to Mr Hulme… that doesn’t seem so difficult. Contact me, I’ll give you a bank account to deposit your money into!


Monetise the industry… but unlike plains game hunting, Rhinos are a very long term investment, and simply hunting them can in no way recover the costs of breeding them. So a split approach is necessary

  • You can hunt Rhino’s (must be older than 13 years though) and it will bring in a bit
  • You can sell the horn (full horn once every three years or so, about 8kg per rhino until huntable age)
  • You can Green Hunt them…

…which is how I found the green hunts and these video from Jim Shockey shooting a white rhino and a black rhino on a green hunt in the Eastern Cape at TAM Safaris a few years back.

Some will feel it’s exploitation of the rhino (just like we exploit a chicken for eggs?) but what is the alternative? Not breed them at all?

Conservationists has been trying to recover the herds with legal means and bans (CITES) since the 1980’s… with little effect in my opinion.

About Sean Nel 51 Articles
Sean Nel is a staff shooter for Archer's Edge South Africa, Beestinger, GoldTip, Sureloc and Health Matrix as well as an accredited Archery Instructor with the South African National Archery Association (SANAA)