May 30, 2010; Source: Sunday Times | No matter how hard it tries, it is impossible to see how a charity that exists to benefit rhinoceroses can also condone and profit from the killing of these endangered animals. Yet, the Sunday Times reports that the British-based Save The Rhino has decided to accept money from a group that sponsors shooting the animals for sport as well as endorsing the practice.

The logic behind the move (from the charity’s perspective) goes something like this: There’s not enough money to properly conserve rhinos so the conservation group believes it can do a better job protecting the surviving animals by collecting money from organizations that arrange for trophy hunts. In explaining the group’s decision to accept donations from Safari Club International (SCI), Lucy Boddam-Whetham, a fundraiser for Save the Rhino, said, “We don’t want to see animals being killed but it’s the situation we are in.” She added that the organization “is looking at all the different ways we can make sure we get money for conservation coming in.”

For its part, SCI claims it only allows the hunting of “mature males past their reproductive prime.” According to Matthew Eckert, manager of conservation, by removing the older male rhinos, “breeding females were more likely to mate with younger, more virile specimens.” The rationale supporting rhino hunting isn’t winning converts from other animal conservation groups. Will Travers, chief executive of the Born Free Foundation, which is opposed to trophy hunting, said: “I find the whole concept deeply depressing. There seems something deeply unethical about championing rhino conservation and then using the money from rhino killed for ‘fun’ to protect some of those that remain.” You can say that again.—Bruce Trachtenberg