Winner of black rhino hunting auction states his $350,000 will help save the species. I note this is common practice outside the U.S., and animal reserves and refuges depend on trophy hunting as a major source of funding. The fees hunters pay goes towards breeding, land use/habitat protection, and education programs.
NatGeo summed-up this (very old) practice well:
According to a recent study, in the 23 African countries that allow sport hunting, 18,500 tourists pay over $200 million (U.S.) a year to hunt lions, leopards, elephants, warthogs, water buffalo, impala, and rhinos.
Private hunting operations in these countries control more than 540,000 square miles (1.4 million square kilometers) of land, the study also found. That’s 22 percent more land than is protected by national parks.
As demand for land increases with swelling human populations, some conservationists are arguing that they can garner more effective results by working with hunters and taking a hand in regulating the industry.
Sport hunting can be sustainable if carefully managed, said Peter Lindsey, a conservation biologist with the University of Zimbabwe in Harare, who led the recent study.
"Trophy hunting is of key importance to conservation in Africa by creating [financial] incentives to promote and retain wildlife as a land use over vast areas," he said.
The more interesting angle, from my point of view, is why conservation efforts to save the black rhino (and many other species) has failed so miserably. In other words, despite the many millions funneled from traditional conservation groups, why is the black rhino still rare? Overall, untold billions have been spent towards conservation efforts and yet dozens of species fall down, extinct, every month. So, for me, I’d like to see a shift in conservation management towards better and more effective practices. This would begin with a bold admission that efforts to date have failed.