U.S. says Michigan businessman who killed critically endangered black rhino can bring his trophy home

By on September 5, 2019 with 61 Comments

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

An American trophy hunter who killed a black rhino in Namibia will receive the Trump administration’s consent to bring his spoils home. This is the third time the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has issued a permit to import a black rhino trophy since 2017, and it illustrates, yet again, how this taxpayer-funded agency is pandering to a few wealthy trophy hunters while showing a callous irresponsibility toward critically endangered species.

The FWS notified us last week that it will issue the import permit to a wealthy businessman from Michigan who killed the animal in May last year in Namibia’s Mangetti National Park. The man agreed to pay $400,000 to a Namibian government fund in exchange for the permit.

This pay-to-slay scheme has become increasingly common in the United States and elsewhere, with trophy hunters claiming that they are benefiting African economies and helping conservation efforts when they kill already imperiled animals. But as studies have shown, there is little evidence that the money actually helps threatened species or communities – in reality, it mostly goes toward lining the pockets of hunting companies and corrupt officials. What is clear is that trophy hunting is driving some animals – already under threat from poaching, habitat loss, and trafficking – to extinction.

There are fewer than 2,000 black rhinos left in Namibia and rhino poaching there is on the rise, with criminals targeting the animals for their horns. According to news reports, 27 black rhinos were poached in Namibia in 2017 and 57 in 2018. This is hardly the time for the United States – which should be leading conservation efforts to save these animals – to instead contribute to their decline by facilitating the ambitions of privileged Americans who want to kill them for trophies and bragging rights.

U.S. law is also very clear: under our federal Endangered Species Act, it is illegal to import trophies of endangered species unless such action is determined to enhance the propagation or survival of the species. Allowing this Michigan trophy hunter to import a critically endangered animal’s trophy, whose numbers in the wild are already dangerously low, clearly does not meet this standard.

In giving its blessing to such imports, our government is also ignoring the fact that most Americans do not support trophy hunting; polls show that more than 80 percent of Americans oppose trophy hunting of big game. A similar decision by the FWS to allow another American trophy hunter to import a black rhino trophy last year was met with outrage and disgust on social media.

President Trump famously derided trophy hunting as a “horror show.” But despite this, trophy hunters have found a willing partner in the FWS under his administration, and we have seen a steady rollback of laws protecting endangered species since 2017, including scaling back of protections for elephants and lions. Last month, the government finalized several regulatory changes to weaken the Endangered Species Act, the bedrock law that protects at-risk species and their habitats – a decision we are challenging in court.

There is no justification for a handful of people with deep pockets and friends in high places to continue robbing the world of its most prized and beautiful wildlife. And there is no justification for our government to continue making it easier for them to indulge in their dangerous hobby. We urge the FWS to stop issuing permits to allow trophy hunters to import the body parts of some of our world’s most endangered animals, and instead do what most Americans want – take the lead in saving these animals, for themselves, for the earth, and for all of us who would rather see an animal in the wild than as a head on someone’s wall.

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Humane Society International, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

Subscribe to the Blog

Enter your email address below to receive updates each time we publish new content.


Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Carolyn Denton says:

    What a disgrace – what are we becoming? So ashamed of our Government for allowing this. We need to help protect wildlife throughout the world. Instead we are encouraging and participating in its’ destruction. So sad

    • D W says:

      Actually, a good way to support wildlife is to give lots of money to the governments that are responsible for their conservation. You know, like giving $400K to Namibia that they can use to help defray the conservation costs ?

    • Chris Holt says:

      You can say that again!!! So sad. Rich people think they can do anything!😠

    • Tonia Tracy-Fillingame says:

      So i see all the comments, all the gripes and all the wishes but has anyone wrote their reps? I copied and paste this on my Sentors page asking for the truth and resolution, including i wanted a reply. Its very simple to let your voice truly be heard and help these animals

    • Wakko says:

      What are we becoming? Sorry Carolyn dear we are already there and have been for awhile.

    • Shirley farano says:

      Well said

    • Mary says:

      This is horrible thing for our country to allow killing of endangered species in any country. The rich always seem to be able to do whatever they want. This should be a crime and I am very disappointed in President Trump allowing such a thing to happen. This is a subject that could make me not want to vote for him. The only time any animal is killed should be for food, not for trophies of any kind.

  2. Robin Oosthoek says:

    If we have to put up with this, I would like an detailed account as to where this money is going.🙁

    • John says:

      Good luck with getting that information. The fat greedy hunting outfitters say thay give to the community. I live in Africa. What they say is what they want you to hear.

      • Richard says:

        Actually, the money trail is clear. 100% of the $400k went straight to the Namibia Government’s Game Products Trust Fund and was earmarked for Black Rhino protection, part of the heralded Black Rhino Management Plan which has seen the doubling of the country’s black rhino population since its inception.

        • Becky says:

          I doubt that it actually 100% goes to the rhinos health and welfare immediately. Just by the fact that a critically endangered species is still hunted for the trophy means that there is corruption involved, NOT conservation.
          Where does every penny of the money go? Are the accounting records public? Just how wealthy are all of the people that have access to that funding, measured in assets as well as annual income?

  3. Pam Brandis says:

    President Trump needs to change his policies on all aspects of animal welfare.

  4. Tracey Milbrook says:

    Look at the boards of the trophy hunting organizations listed numerous times on this site. These are the influencers to the President and USFW past and present. It is well known his sons are members of these organizations and put forth their hunting pals on the IWC.

    They are not good people.

    Trophy hunters are sociopaths.

  5. Arlo Fellenz says:

    This is absolutely disgusting. No regards to anything other than his wants and needs. Anyone who knows this man should give a piece of their mind to him. He needs to be feeling like an outcast.

  6. František Hajdúk says:

    Je to HRôZA sledovať ako niektorí ” ĽUDIA ” ničia našu planétu a všetko živé aj neživé na nej, len kôli zisku a pre peniaze – aj za cenu ŽIVOTA. Ak sa nezmení myslenie ľudí, tak naších potomkov nečaká v budúcnosti NIČ dobré !!!

  7. Dee says:

    Disgrace. No respect for life, laws, or anything.

  8. M. Evans says:

    What is his first and last name and business?

    • Bernie says:

      You will find names and their business on the boards of NRA, Safari Club InternationaI, Sportmen Alliance, Boone & Crockett, etc. These people are of the same ilk, have the same resources and hunt the same animals as Mr. Michigan. Start here. It’s public information.

  9. Ewa Urbanski says:

    Es ist beschämend für so ein angeblich demokratisches ,freiheitliebendes Land das Tiere gemordet werden aus pure Lust und Vergnügung. Schande für Amerika!!!!!

  10. Wrout Linda Ann says:

    They should hang their heads in shame, everyone involved in facilitating this brutal, self indulgent, murder of these beautiful creatures who share our earth. 😞

  11. Marsha says:

    No need for it

  12. Dorothy McElwain says:

    Who is this so-called Michigan business man. The public has a right to know. He isn’t a business man he is a murderer. Shame on the government for allowing this fiend to bring such a defenseless animal back as a trophy.

  13. Nora Abdu says:

    I’ve been so angry about the Endangered Species Act that the jerk past and now this? Even trophy hunters names will be hidden according to a new law passed! OMG people! See what’s happening to our precious wildlife because of this jerk?! Vote him out in 2020!!!

  14. Helen Sause says:

    I don’t care if you are a Poacher or just a Hunter, in my book you are made of the same kind of SHIT INSIDE. Shame 😒 on all of you and what you do. There is no way any of you “have done a good job” with anything you do. You all make me SICK. “May God Have Mercy On Your Souls”, because I would never
    ” Have Any Mercy For Or On Any Of You, EVER.

  15. John B says:

    The article is based solely on emotion and lacking in science. The hunt was an excellent move for conservation and Rhinos.

    • Chris says:

      How can killing a rhino contribute to it’s conservation?

      • Richard says:

        First, older post-reproductive black rhino bulls ( the only bulls that may be hunted in Namibia) kill other black rhinos – bulls, cows and calves. The loss of rhinos that are or will be able to add to the population can have devastating consequences on the overall population. The answer- kill the old post-reproductive bull before he kills one more reproductive rhino. Second, sell the export tag (license to hunt) for several hundred thousand dollars that will go straight to the Game Products Trust Fund for the benefit and protection of the country’s remaining black rhino population. That’s how killing a rhino contributes to rhino conservation.

      • Peter Apps says:

        Individual animals cannot be conserved, but their populations can be. Making someone pay huge amounts of money to shoot one rhino, and then using that money to conserve the rhino population results in their being more rhinos.

    • Vicky Slay says:

      You have got to be joking. This is 2019, hunting deer, geese, squirrels, that people hunt in order to eat a meal, hardly exists and sometimes it’s to reduce population making roads safer to travel. Hunting an animal that hardly can exist in their low numbers who are trying to survive and some day you will have to visit a zoo to see one still alive, really enjoying their crampt quarters and people pushing them around sometimes even hitting them for no real reason. I have seen this happen in zoos and get away with it as people can be asses or you just don’t report it. You say it’s just in the hunt!!! You make it sound like it’s okay to kill one out of 2,000 left in the entire world. It’s not okay to do if you care about the animals who are on their way to extinction because people killed too many. There is a price to pay, but not in money.

    • Agda says:

      I can’t believe some of you dare to say stupid shit like this.
      Yeah, let’s kill a species in order to “protect” them.
      Simply pathetic.

    • Kara Barnes says:

      How can killing a rhino save rhinos

  16. L regan says:

    Never ever been more ashamed and disgusted of our world and many of its human beings as i am now . The corruption , greed , ignorance, deceit , poverty,wars ,lies and bickering going on in all countries etc its truly pathetic .
    Its says when all these things start to happening in the world ……all will end ……big disaster is heading for us all . Punishment for bad, disgraceful ,greedy caretakers of this world will come ! The animals will come back into this world when humans have destroyed themselves and everything around us because they are far superior to humans .
    Ive got to the point that of all of whats going on in the world ,the upset,the OMG moments which used to few and far between ……now upset me many times daily …..year in ……many yrs following
    Reading the news,failures from govs and all whats going on in other countries etc that i would rather go and end my life . This is the kind of world i want to be part of and ascociated with . I am ashamed to be classed a HUMAN BEING no thanks to all those out to destroy the planet our world …..the likes of the epstein guy,trophy hunters ,paedophiles,murders etc,etc(these are the devils in disguise setting and providing the way to destroy our world …..many interlinked with rich n powerful organisations…..in top jobs controlling everything ) all horrendous and horrorfying

  17. Ryan mizell says:

    This makes me sick but what can us animal lovers do to stop this? We can’t I feel help less.

  18. Peter says:

    First of all I am not a hunter and I would not hunt as I have neither the funds nor the inclination. But I enjoyed a 20 year career in tourism in Africa.
    Here are some facts – Kenya does not allow any form of consumptive game management – they have a population of 310 rhino – by the way all translocated from South Africa – South Africa allow the consumptive use of game and they have a rhino population of 18000.
    In about 1975 the two countries went different ways – Kenya banned the consumptive use of game whereas South Africa went the opposite way and allowed the private ownership of game. The results speak for themselves.

    Organisations that demonise hunting do game conservation huge damage. Unless the funding generated by the consumptive use of game is replaced there are no resources to protect wildlife.
    Happy to discuss

    • Vicky Slay says:

      Very interesting to know, working around this for your perspective as to how this worked out then the failure of communication that took place. You have a wonderful job even though you can clearly see what happens where you live and work. Thank you for volunteering your information.

    • Ms. Jacqueline Simone Ambrose says:

      Peter, you are absolutely correct. Hunting plays a significant role in wildlife conservation. I grew up all over Tanzania when wildlife was plentiful. In 2005 I traveled to Tabora for the first time in 3 decades to initiate a water project, & was shocked to see the population explosion. There was no wildlife left in areas where they used to be, they had been squeezed out of their habitat by people/livestock. The biggest threat to wildlife is not legal hunting but bush meat poaching be it for eating or selling. Wire snares are commonly used & trap animals indiscriminately, even lions. The animal suffers terribly & dies a lingering death.
      Blaming professional hunters for driving wildlife to extinction is irresponsible. The fact is unless wildlife offers value to the local communities they will be poached. Poverty is the driver, there is no work for villagers who share the land with wildlife. Professional hunters contribute significantly to the local communities where they hunt. Providing much needed meat (without poaching), building wells, schools, clinics, the men in the villages watch out for poachers & report them as it is in their best interest. I personally know some of the hunting safari outfitters & have seen their projects, in fact a big part of anti-poaching units job is collecting snares. It takes a huge amount of money to conserve wildlife which has to come from somewhere. Tanzania does a commendable job in wildlife conservation with a combination of photographic safaris, which by themselves do not provide enough money, & professional hunting safaris.
      The Southern African countries (SADC) countries that still have wildlife left know what works best for them., & hunting safaris bring in much needed funds for wildlife conservation & communities. We need to work together to help preserve wildlife, not be divisive.
      “We are all wardens of this earth we inhabit, therefore morally obligated to protect wildlife and the environment for future generations. Otherwise we have failed in our duty as human beings”.
      Jacqueline Simone Ambrose

      • Ray says:

        Again, the point is lost on you. It’s not conservation if you get to kill an animal to save them.

        I think Sportsmen Alliance and Boone & Crockett monitor sites like this and throw up rebuttals to get us to see their side. All I see when I read stuff like this is someone justifying killing an animal.

      • Beverley says:

        Jacqueline Simon Ambrose, Thank you for responding & clarifying what is ACTUALLY happening! But I doubt if ANY of these people will read it in it’s entirety once they see you are not joining in with their uneducated cause. Thank you again. You’ve certainly helped me.

        • TomKat says:

          Oh, Beverly, you are just another trophy-hunter-lover calling us all uneducated because our opinions don’t align with yours. Do you wear fur and go to the Saint Hubertus Galas or Dallas Safari Club black tie events?

    • Mary Oates says:

      If trophy hunters really cared about conservation and saving these animals, they would use their money to actually save them. But no, they will only save them if they can kill one of them. Makes zero sense to me.

      Trophy hunters are sociopaths. Always trying to manipulate the truth to justify what is really going on. They are liars and murderers. It’s truly as simple as that.

    • Peter Apps says:

      Well said – whatever people’s feelings are about hunting, the facts need to be allowed to speak for themselves.

  19. June says:

    This is what Trump is trying to achieve.
    Only the wealthiest are given tax breaks, and now allowed to kill rare animals and bring them here as trophies.
    What a disgusting place we live in.
    If these people are so bored, looking to spend money, maybe instead of killing innocent and rare animals, they could help feed the poor.
    If we allow this to keep happening, we are just as guilty.

  20. Lorraine Leiner says:

    It is our responsibily to be the protectors of this planet and animals, which God has given to us, not destroyers. Unfortunately, there will always be people throughout history, that will never get this ! Very Sad state of affairs ! 😔

  21. Kim Tait says:

    how come you omitted his name. WE want to know and we deserve to know. was your omission intentional or accidental. Are you protecting that kind of far right trash and why?

  22. margarita clayton says:

    Those who allow trophy hunting & allow the trophy entry into the uS are as criminal as the hunter. They need to be LOCKED UP. There is no more pride for doing the right thing. The higher levels of morality & thinking are not present. Power, breaking laws, dishonesty are all measures of intelligence, now. But there are some of us that will continue to fight for what’s right. Thank you Humane Society of the U.S.

  23. ANOTHER Peter says:

    I have another possible solution- allow ultra wealthy donors to give $400,000 to a legitimate, responsible government conversation anti-poaching organization, and in return they receive a plaque, a headquarters building of the anti-poaching group named after the donor, and a photograph of a living, breathing, protected endangered animal. No guns, no bullets, no extinct species- but the glory and fame of their name as an example of using their money for good, instead of death.

    • Ray says:

      If you know a wealthy trophy hunter you would realize they actually don’t give a shit about saving an animal contrary to their “conservation” crap stories. The would never donate money to actually save an animal unless killing is involved. It’s all hypocrisy.

      Look at Sportsmen Alliance’s instagram and twitter feed. You will see what I’m talking about.

  24. Ellen Sandbeck says:

    This businessman needs to have his name publicized, so he can be driven out of business.

  25. Maggie says:

    Whats even worse is that you can do so much more with that money. Donate to charity, buy a fancy horse stable, buy tons of cubed watermelon. But no. He wasted it all to kill an innocent soul. He’s just psychotic. Because if these monsters don’t stop killing these endangered animals, there will be no more left. These animals will no longer exist, only in story. These people must be stopped.

Share a Comment

The HSUS encourages open discussion, and we invite you to share your opinion on our issues. By participating on this page, you are agreeing to our commenting policy.
Please enter your name and email address below before commenting. Your email address will not be published.