Rhinoceros Hunting

Rhino Hunting in Africa

The rhinoceros, or rhino, both black and white, is characterized by it large size.  It is the second largest dangerous game animal in Africa.  It is a herbivore weighing in at over 2,000 pounds for the black rhinoceros, while the white rhino is considerably larger at 6,500 pounds or larger.  It subsists on leafy material, although it can survive on more fibrous plants if necessary.  Both African species lack teeth at the front of their mouth.  Instead they use their lips to graze.  Black and white rhinos have relatively small brains for their size.  

There are two species of the African white rhino; the southern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum) and the northern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum cottoni).  Most of the southern white rhinos are found in South Africa.  The northern white rhino is listed as critically endangered, and in truth, could be completely extinct. 

The name “white” rhinoceros is said to come from the Dutch “wijd” meaning wide in reference to its square lips it uses for feeding.  It has two horns on its snout.  The front horn is quite a bit larger than the rear horn; average height around three feet, although in some cases the front horn will exceed 60 inches.  Both horns are made out of keratin, the same protein that makes up hair and fingernails. Poachers kill the rhino for its horn which is then ground to a powder and sold as a supposed aphrodisiac/health medicine.  

A white rhino was reported a few years ago that tipped the scales at 10,000 pounds - definitely trophy material.  If you missed out on hunting a diplodocus during the Middle Jurassic epoch (167 million years ago - give or take) then going rhino hunting in Africa for a white rhino would be a good substitute.

The name black rhinoceros (Dicers bicornis) is somewhat misleading as both rhino species are dark or black.  There are four subspecies of black rhino, but for all intent and purpose, consider them as one.  The West African subspecies was declared extinct in 2011.  Their range runs from southern Angola to western South Africa; east to Tanzania; west to Namibia. They aren’t as large as the white rhinoceros, weighing between 1,800 pounds and 3,500 pounds with an exceptional animal hitting 4,000 pounds. Black rhinos are browsers.  The black rhino has a pointed mouth with prehensile lips which it uses to grab twigs and leaves.

Adult rhinoceros have no natural predators.  Young rhinos are preyed on by big cats, hyenas, wild dog packs and crocodiles.  Rhinos are tough animals, but they can be easily poached.  They have to drink daily and can be snared or shot at water holes.  In 2009, rhino poaching increased dramatically just as protection methods began a decline.  Rhinoceros horn is now worth more than $1600 per ounce.  That, coupled with almost no protection in countries like Zimbabwe that have little to no law enforcement, has led to a decline in population of about 25 per cent.

The only way there is any rhino hunting in Africa is trophy hunting for white rhino.  Black rhino are mostly protected and have been for over 30 years.  Very few are hunted each year, although Namibia and South Africa occasionally issue a permit allowing for an older bull to be removed. Due to the scarcity of permits, the price for hunting a black rhino is very high.  There are around 4,000 to 5,000 black rhinos in Africa.  Of these, 1,700 are in Namibia.  In 2013, a black Namibian bull rhino that was in bad health, was causing a lot of problemsand could have been proven a danger to younger animals, was put up for auction by the Dallas Safari Club.  The winner paid $350,000 for the hunt.  Dallas Safari Club said all the money will be given to the Namibian government to use on their black rhino conservation effort.  In effect, an old, soon to die, rhino will go for improving the black rhino species in Namibia rather than being eaten by hyenas.  That’s one way that African Rhino hunting will benefit all rhinos.  At the time this was written, the USF&W service had still not issued an import permit for this rhino.

Trophy African rhinoceros hunting is a bit different.  The white rhino that used to be racing towards extinction, has been brought back by efforts of game ranches and reserves.  Today there is an estimated 20,000 white rhinos in South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe.  The population is growing and surplus animals may be hunted.  Many game ranches are using the rhino as an investment by breeding the bulls for years, then replacing the old bull by a younger one then offering the old rhino up for rhinoceros hunting.

C.I.T.I.E.S. (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) states.  “The Southern white rhino is allowed to be hunted as a trophy in South Africa and Namibia.  Importation of these trophies into USA and Europe is allowed.”

Rhino hunting in South Africa only requires a CITIES permit.  Trophies hunted in Namibia require both import and export permits.  CITIES has very recently allowed very strictly controlled black rhino hunting in South Africa due to their stability in that country.  There will be two bulls available in 2015, but as was shown by the above-mentioned auction, prices will be high.

Along with opening up rhino hunting, South Africa has outlawed their darted rhino hunts on game ranches, as it seems that some rhinos were being darted as often as ten times a year.  Hunters are now allowed to shoot a vitamin dart in conjunction with a veterinarian darting the rhino for a health examination.

Here’s a tip on rhino hunting in Africa; the minimum caliber is the trusty .375 Magnum, but a larger caliber - say in the .40+ range might be a good idea.  Rhino hunting has been likened to shooting pigs in a pen, but don’t always believe what you hear.  Granted, he’s innately stupid, blind as a bat, and not particularly blessed with an overabundance of intelligence, but he does have one particular trait - he can and will kill you.  He only has one m.o., if something gets in his way, he’ll knock it down and throw in a few jabs with his horn for good measure.  He may have been sold from a game reserve a few years ago, but he’s still capable of making a muddy paste out of a hunter if he has the mind set to do it.   Make your shot count.