After controversy, Dallas Safari Club turns to 'darted' rhino hunt

DALLAS – Darts, not bullets.

The winner of an upcoming Dallas Safari Club auction won't get to hunt for a white rhinoceros to kill and take home, instead the hunter will use darts to tranquilize the animal for a photo opportunity.

"We have auctioned several of these before and it is usually bought by a hunter that wants the experience," Ben Carter, Executive Director of the Dallas Safari Club, said in an email to News 8.

The auction will happen at the annual Dallas Safari Club Convention to be held at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center starting Jan. 7.

The white rhinoceros is not listed as "endangered," but the northern subspecies is near extinction. Nola, a 41-year-old rhino, died after surgery at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in November. Nola was one of only four living northern white rhinos in the world.

The World Wildlife Fund considers the white rhino "a major conservation success story," according to the fund's website. The hunt offered by the Dallas Safari Club is located along the eastern cape of South Africa.

"There is a healthy population of those, but many are being poached in Kruger National Park," Carter said.

Carter said darting the white rhino also provides an opportunity for the animal to get a check-up.

"They will also examine the rhino once darted to make sure he is in good shape and healthy," Carter said.

This year, hunters will not get to bid on a hunt for a rare black rhinoceros. Two years ago, the Dallas Safari Club faced backlash for offering the auction item despite the Safari Club's offering in the name of conservation.

"We raised $350,000 to go directly to Namibia's Conservation fund to directly help manage Black Rhino in Namibia," Carter said.

Namibia's government issues five permits annually to hunt the endangered black rhino. Money raised must be directed toward conservation.

The Dallas Safari Club is not the only group to get caught up in controversy over trophy hunting. In July, a Minnesota dentist killed a beloved lion named Cecil at a nature reserve in Zimbabwe.

Cecil's death prompted major airlines to ban the shipment of animal trophies, including Fort Worth-based American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta Airlines.

Carter criticized the transport bans.

"In our view, it is illegal for the airlines companies to deny transport of legal cargo based on their emotional opinion of that cargo. We have laws in place that will ultimately support our view," Carter said.

Not all hunts donated to the Dallas Safari Club's auction use "darts." Several hunts offer bidders the chance to pay for lavish trips to hunt and kill wildlife, then transport the trophies back home.


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