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Oz Outraged at Canned Hunt for Rare Antelope– Which Texas Does in Droves

photo courtesy of Cats 2007
Australians this week were outraged when they realized the Taronga Zoo in Dubbo, NSW, is selling off blackbuck antelopes, which are endangered in their native India, to canned hunting ranches. Meanwhile, these kind of black buck hunts go on non-stop in Texas and nobody cares.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Bob McComb, owner of the Dongadale Deer Park and Stud, bought 24 blackbuck antelope from the zoo for between AU$160 and $300 (US$130 – $250). (Later the zoo admitted selling 84 animals to a bunch of these hunt clubs. Sure seems like the zoo was letting them breed to get cute babies to attract visitors.) The deal is he can only breed the ones he got from the zoo, but he’ll “hunt” their offspring. He’s confident he’ll be able to get approval to do it, then charge thousands of dollars per kill.
Australians were suitably taken aback. They called for the zoo’s animal welfare chief to quit. And New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees said No, he wasn’t going to suddenly allow these widely-ridiculed hunting ranches–even though it’ll make it hard to corral conservatives on other issues.
India sent Bollywood star Salman Khan to jail for shooting one of these lanky animals. The eight year court case may now be a movie. Wildlife preserves like the ABOHAR in Punjab are carefully coaxing their numbers up. Nature worshipping Bishnois protect them.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch in Texas, canned hunting is a big business. Even though real hunters looked down on the kind of weasels who shoot caged animals, then boastfully hang their heads on a wall, Texas is fine with it.
The Texas Hunt Lodge–one of many in the state–lets these brave men choose whether to stalk these antelope or hunt them from a blind, then use a bow, rifle, handgun or old fashioned black powder weapon. They’ll even let them play safari. The price: $1,750 or $3,000, depending on whether the horns qualify as a mere trophy (about 18 inches) or a “record”–20 inches or more.
How did we end up with such different attitudes toward these antelopes? For starters there are now nearly as many blackbucks on ranches in Texas and Argentina as there are living in the wild in India (50,000.) India declares them endangered (but even some there contemplate hunting schemes because they eat a lot of sorghum crops.) Officially, IUCN calls these Antilope cervicapra “near threatened.” That is, not officially endangered.

The black buck on the Edwards Plateau in Texas are considered exotic. Under wildlife laws here, that means they don’t even count as wildlife.

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