The Dallas Safari Club's decision to auction off the chance to hunt an endangered black rhino has sparked an impassioned and thoroughly fascinating debate about the ethical implications of big-game hunting and whether an animal's age and inability to reproduce is enough to justify its death.
That debate is officially over, the underlying moral quandary settled once and for all. Yes, Bob Barker has spoken.
"As an older male myself, I must say that this seems like rather a harsh way of dealing with senior citizens," the 90-year-old, most recognizable as the longtime host of The Price is Right, wrote in a letter to DSC Executive Director Ben Carter.
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He tosses in a few more self-deprecating old-person references -- "[J]ust because you're 'retired' doesn't mean you don't have anything more to offer. In fact, I personally feel that I've accomplished a great deal since I quit my day job." -- before moving on to his main point:
There are only about 5,000 black rhinos still alive in Africa. What kind of message does it send when we put a $1 million bounty on one of their heads? These animals are endangered for that very reason: money. What makes you any better than the poachers who kill rhinos to feed their families? At least, they are honest about their less noble motives. You try to dress up greed under the guise of "conservation."
True conservationists are those who pay money to keep rhinos alive -- in the form of highly lucrative eco-tourism -- as opposed to those who pay money for the cheap thrill of taking this magnificent animal's life and putting his head on a wall.
"If you want someone's head to go on a wall, pick mine," he concludes. "I will happily send you an autographed photo to auction off instead. My mug may not fetch as much money as that of a dead rhino, but at least we'll all live to enjoy another sunrise in our sunset years."
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.