Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Tales from the Hunt

Two stories tonight from the world of hunting. One strange, but legal:

BOSTON - A 50-ton bowhead whale caught off the Alaskan coast last month had a weapon fragment embedded in its neck that showed it survived a similar hunt — more than a century ago. Embedded deep under its blubber was a 3 1/2-inch arrow-shaped projectile that has given researchers insight into the whale's age, estimated between 115 and 130 years old....

The 49-foot male whale died when it was shot with a similar projectile last month, and the older device was found buried beneath its blubber as hunters carved it with a chain saw for harvesting....

Whaling has always been a prominent source of food for Alaskans, and is monitored by the International Whaling Commission. A hunting quota for the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission was recently renewed, allowing 255 whales to be harvested by 10 Alaskan villages over five years.

A sad end for the whale, and I can't say that I approve of whale hunting, but it is legal.

On the other hand, this isn't:

LUSAKA (AFP) - Poachers have shot the last two white rhinos in Zambia, killing one and wounding the other, in a night operation at the Mosi-Oa-Tunya national park in Livingstone, an official said Tuesday.

The shooting of the two endangered animals in a heavily-guarded zoological park near Victoria Falls in Zambia's tourist resort town of Livingstone took place last week.

"I can confirm that one of the white rhinos was shot dead by suspected poachers. The other one was wounded and is undergoing treatment," said Maureen Mwape, spokesperson of the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA), which would be investigating the shooting.

The dead female rhino's horn was apparently removed.

Zambia's white rhinos were all killed by poachers but the government managed to acquire six from South Africa in 1993, of which the injured male is the last to survive.

It's hard to say what's worse, that people are killing these rare animals for profit, or that there's a market for it.

I'm not opposed to hunting, per se. But it has to be done in a manner that manages the wild life in an intelligent manner. But white rhino hunts are just criminal wastefulness.

...

I think I need to post something more cynical now, just so no one things I've gone completely soft.

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