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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Strategic CSR - Markets

Where are the limits of the market to solve societal problems?
“The Dallas Safari Club knows how to bring in the new year with a bang. On Jan. 11, a rare permit to hunt and kill an endangered black rhino will be sold in Dallas to the highest bidder.”
The idea, of course, is to use the auction to raise as much money as possible (the goal is $1 million) that can then be used to help preserve the species. It is also hoped that the attention the auction garners can be used to raise awareness of the danger of extinction. The argument of the Dallas Safari Club is that, not only is this how conservation should work, but that it is the best chance we have to avoid the rhino’s extinction:
“‘This is a great opportunity to do something we are all going to be proud about,’ Carter [Ben Carter, executive director of the Dallas Safari Club] said. ‘It would be a terrible travesty to not have black rhinos roaming in their natural habitat. We hope they'll be around for a long time to come.’”
Conservationists, needless to say, are not convinced:
“‘Issuing this ... permit is a threat to rhinos, since it will now encourage more Americans to travel to Africa and start killing these imperiled animals,’ said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. ‘It is also a very dangerous precedent.’”
What is not in debate is that this animal is in danger. The vast majority would like to keep it around, yet existing policies are not working:
“The black rhinoceros, once numbering in the hundreds of thousands, has had its population drop sharply since the 1960s. Now there are only about 5,000 — and many of those, nearly 1,800, are in Namibia, a southern African country that borders the Atlantic Ocean.”
The problem is, of course, is that the market works in many different ways and there are more than enough incentives to kill the animal that manage to persuade some that it is worth their while:
“The black rhino, as well as its white counterpart, is hunted by poachers for its horns, which are highly valued for medicinal and therapeutic purposes and can be sold on the international black market for anywhere from $50,000 to $300,000. In recent years, more than 1,600 white and black rhinos have been slaughtered for their horns.”
At least there appears to be some science backing up the market logic for selective culling:
“‘The removal of limited numbers of males has been shown to stimulate population growth in some areas,’ according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. ‘Removing specific individuals from a population can result in reduced male fighting, shorter calving intervals and reduced juvenile mortality.’”
And rules in place ensure the least damage possible will be done:
“The winner of the permit — if he or she uses it — would hunt the animal in the Mangetti National Park in Namibia with a guide and officials who would indicate which of the black rhinos it is OK to kill. … The chosen rhino will be an older bull, one who no longer breeds. And he will be known to hurt others in the group, one who could kill babies, breeding males and females of any age.”
The upside is that, potentially, a lot of good will come from the exercise. But, I wonder if the logic that is ultimately being used to rationalize the auction alters the underlying ethical decision:
“‘This one that has been chosen — a problem animal — will be removed whether there is or isn't an auction,’ Carter said. ‘This is an opportunity to raise a lot of money for something that will happen no matter what.’”
The winning bid for the right to shoot the animal? $350,000 (see:
Take care
David Chandler & Bill Werther
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Dallas auction for the right to hunt endangered black rhino stirs uproar
By Anna M. Tinsley
December 25, 2013
msn news