Madison hunter to import black rhino trophy into U.S. for first time in 30 years

2013-04-30T09:30:00Z 2013-04-30T10:06:05Z Madison hunter to import black rhino trophy into U.S. for first time in 30 yearsMARY SPICUZZA | Wisconsin State Journal | | 608-252-6122

David K. Reinke says he’s committed to saving the endangered black rhinoceros.

So the Madison businessman traveled to Namibia, where he contributed about $200,000 to a trust fund there — and shot and killed a black rhino.

Reinke said killing the rhino, a 34-year-old sterile male that he shot with a .375 H&H Magnum rifle, actually helped the species, of which only about 4,000 are left in the wild, by reducing fighting injuries and deaths among male rhinos and encouraging rhino reproduction.

“This is a scientific issue,” Reinke said in an interview. “Don’t forget, the important thing here is to save the rhino.”

Reinke, president and CEO of Liberty Parts Team, a Madison printer parts wholesale company, is the first American in more than 30 years allowed to import a black rhino trophy. That’s put him at the center of an international controversy over trophy hunting and endangered species, and what role — if any — rhino and other big-game hunting can play in conservation efforts.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision this spring to grant Reinke a permit to import the rhino, which he killed in 2009, has enraged some animal rights and animal advocacy organizations. The Humane Society of the United States, for example, said the move sets a dangerous precedent, one that will push black rhinos closer to the brink of extinction and encourage American hunters to shoot these and other endangered animals — like cheetahs — then try to plead their case to federal authorities in hopes of bringing their trophies home.

“These trophy hunters love killing, but they do it for bragging rights,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. “It’s only a selfish and self-interested person who shoots one of the biggest, rarest and most remarkable animals in the world for bragging rights, pushing that species one step closer to extinction.”

But in its statement announcing that Reinke’s permit had been issued, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services said it made its decision “after an extensive review of Namibia’s black rhino conservation program, in recognition of the role that well-managed, limited sport hunting plays in contributing to the long-term survival and recovery of the black rhino” in that country.

“The Service cannot and will not allow the importation of sport-hunted trophies of species protected under the Endangered Species Act — unless a comprehensive review determines that those trophies are taken as part of a well-managed conservation program that enhances the long-term survival of the species,” the agency said in a March 28 statement announcing its decision.

It also noted Reinke’s contribution to Namibia’s Game Products Trust Fund, which helps to fund conservation and management efforts, and called the southern African country a leader in rhino conservation efforts.

Reinke, who has donated thousands of dollars to Republican political candidates including Gov. Scott Walker but considers himself an independent, praised the Obama administration’s decision. He said many of the groups criticizing his permit claim to raise awareness about endangered species but are “not saving rhinos.”

Peter Thormählen of Thormählen & Cochran Safaris, the group that organized Reinke’s hunt, had no comment.

But an organization named Conservation Force, which has spent about four years helping Reinke get his permit so he could bring home the trophy, argues the decision will be a precedent-setting boost for efforts to protect endangered species.

“Mostly it’s significant for rhino conservation,” said John Jackson of Conservation Force. “It will help support anti-poaching efforts.”

Jackson said Conservation Force is a nonprofit, charitable organization that is “using hunting as a tool to conserve species.” And the group’s website describes itself as “a force for wildlife conservation, wild places and our way of life.”

World Wildlife Fund, a leading wildlife conservation group, said it also supported the federal government’s decision to allow Reinke to import the trophy.

“When rhinos, or other species, are harvested from communal conservancies in Namibia, a portion of the revenue goes to the conservancy from which the animal originated,” Matt Lewis, WWF African species expert, said in a statement. “This lucrative financial return conveys the value of rhinos to the community, thereby providing incentives for effective wildlife management, anti-poaching efforts, and for greater resources to be allocated toward these goals.”

Lewis said WWF recognizes trophy hunting is controversial.

“It is rarely the preferred option,” he said. “But we do have to work within the realities and challenges of conservation on the ground.”

Reinke said he believes he helped protect the species by killing the sterile male rhino but added that he has also helped other rhinos survive — including a baby white rhino he described rescuing from a warthog hole in South Africa. He said he spent several thousand dollars to make sure it was nursed back to health and believes it is now in a zoo.

As for the rhino that Reinke killed, he said he donated all of the meat to local people to eat and hopes others will be able to see the trophy in the U.S.

“It should go to a museum,” Reinke said. “It’s very historic.”

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(44) Comments

  1. nyteryder
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    nyteryder - May 04, 2013 8:24 am
    I do not care how much money he has claimed to have given in what he considers helping the Rhino. Killing an animal that is on the brink of extinction from poaching for sport makes me question his soul and motive even though the meat was donated. If he was to have given the money to the preservation of the Rhino without killing one I would have had some respect for this man but he wanted something in return, and that was a DEAD Rhino, nothing more, and he thinks that by donating the money and meat that his actions will be overlooked by those of us who know better. Sorry, but this is just a man with money to blow and thinks that his money can buy out people into thinking that his actions are for a good cause. Apparently it has worked for him. Money always seems to win out.
  2. Madravenspeak
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    Madravenspeak - May 03, 2013 11:32 pm
    Liberal? Who are you kidding?
  3. Madravenspeak
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    Madravenspeak - May 03, 2013 11:31 pm
    Rosalie, join us at to help us start an annual event for our wildlife.
  4. Madravenspeak
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    Madravenspeak - May 03, 2013 11:30 pm
    "World Wildlife Fund, a leading wildlife conservation group, said it also supported the federal government’s decision to allow Reinke to import the trophy."

    All of these "conservation" organizations, including Sierra Club ( read Sea Shepherd admiral Paul Watson's reasons for resigning from the national board of directors : ,
    Audubon Society ( in bed with Ducks Unlimited), Nature "Conservancy" that promotes killing and trapping on 92% of its "conservancy", and League of "Conservation" Voters who promote trapping, are in bed with the killing clubs for their membership money.

    Join us at to help Wisconsin have any balance at all for the 90% of us who do not kill wildlife and would love to see a bobcat, enjoy the woods with black bears, and protect our gentle deer and turkeys. We do not care if you donate or not. We are organizing to help democratize nature and wildlife care in our state for a first time democracy and voice for the majority and our suffering wildlife.
  5. Madravenspeak
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    Madravenspeak - May 03, 2013 11:22 pm
    It is a pathetic attempt to enhance one's ego at the expense of wildlife. How man decided that killing animals was manly is absolute idiocy. Men who kill wildlife prove how pathetic they are. How unconscious they are. It is just like a woman in a fur coat wearing leather shoes, eating a hamburger. Ugly.

    When will they ever learn the message of every spiritual teaching - that love and relationship - caring for the other - nurturing and concern for the suffering of others is the only path of the heart...
  6. Madravenspeak
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    Madravenspeak - May 03, 2013 11:20 pm
    Exactly. It is irrelevant. Nothing.
  7. Madravenspeak
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    Madravenspeak - May 03, 2013 11:19 pm
    I support Rosalie and I spend thousands of dollars a year on wildlife and donate pro bono a column every other week for the past couple of years ( Madravenspeak column) in the Capital Times. We all work our tails off to help undo the damage of the killing obsessed across the country, but especially sick in Wisconsin.
  8. Madravenspeak
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    Madravenspeak - May 03, 2013 11:17 pm
    Ya think?
  9. Madravenspeak
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    Madravenspeak - May 03, 2013 11:17 pm
    Retoother needs a job. He is everywhere hating hating hating animals and despising the people that love animals. How can anyone live with such hate in themselves. It is a phenomenon of perversion.
  10. Madravenspeak
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    Madravenspeak - May 03, 2013 11:14 pm
    Being "managed - MAN-aged" is the reason wildlife populations are plummeting worldwide to the point that Nature Magazine has warned that human extinction is a real possibility. You see you just cannot live on the planet alone after you have killed and killed and killed the web of life that supports human life. This species has a screw loose.

    There is an Australian group who have been working in central Africa training native Africans to defend their wildlife with a focus on rhinos. So of course they can be relocated.

    Your ignorance about deer "MAN-agement" speaks volumes. While the hunters tell the public they are needed to "Manage " deer to keep the deer herds in check, high school cheerleader Stepp ( no rocket scientist and certainly no biologist) and her minions have promised annually "To grow the deer herd another 175,000 for your killing pleasure".

    Likewise bear? Really? Then why does Lynn Rogers, bear biologist who has studied black bears for 45 years, say "You are never so safe as in the woods with a black bear'. These peaceful funny, intelligent beings are so much more in tune with nature than the murderous serial killers that just cannot get enough of heads on their walls, managing to run dogs on all wildlife 24/7 shaking baby bears out of trees for their dogs to get the same bloodlust they have - it is sickening.

    Rural subsistence? Give me a break.

    And if a hunter can take a hundred pounds of deer - evidently you have never raised a fawn - then I as a equal citizen, paying my taxes, and born in this state, should damned well be equally entitled to tag a deer to live forever in the woods every time a hunter kills - and pay the same and take as much live trapping out of our public lands for $4 as a new trapper as the trappers take for 7 months, on unlimited trap lines with unlimited traps with unlimited bag limits - FOR PROFIT from our commons - and I will sell them alive to repopulate the raped out lands. They kill forever - I will tag and let them live forever.

    Fair is fair. Or are we only in a hunter run oligarchy. Yes - hunter/trapper/hounder entitled to kill - but 90% of us entitled to nothing? NO MORE.
  11. Madravenspeak
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    Madravenspeak - May 03, 2013 11:06 pm
    Oh yeah - the governments are so democratic. Line their pockets and they pander to any special interest. The people who exploit what little is left of wildlife ( 35% plummet in populations worldwide in 35 years - headed fast to the tipping point where we will collapse) - those people have the money to buy the rest. So you think "by the book" is so cool.

    All governments are killing businesses for special interests - except maybe a few in S. America where indigenous people have elected their own.
  12. Madravenspeak
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    Madravenspeak - May 03, 2013 11:04 pm
    This is such a crock. The vegan movement is moving fast as people realize that their planet is dying, their oceans are dying and their climate is roasting and freezing and winding and storming. According to Worldwatch Institute, 51% causation of climate chaos is slaughterhouse production.

    The old thrill killer, trophy killing, gotta serial kill wildlife, trapping and hounding and gut shooting and killing every creature on the way to killing every other creature EXCUSE of eating animals is oh so passe. There is no excuse for causing suffering. There is no excuse for taking the life of animals to have carcasses for dinner. And there is zero excuse for cruelty and the arrogance of human utilitarian destruction of our planet.

    We need to get human overpopulation, greed, arrogance and take under control. Humans are the species that need to be controlled.
  13. Madravenspeak
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    Madravenspeak - May 03, 2013 11:01 pm
    All people should be anti-"hunting", thrill killing, gluttony killing, some rationale or other killing. Yep - and proud to be against killing, you betcha.
  14. Madravenspeak
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    Madravenspeak - May 03, 2013 10:59 pm
    Yup - Money and death go so well together. Nobody should be eating any meat and it does not take any "guts" to kill a defenseless animal. It does not take any intelligence to read that 51% of climate change is caused by slaughtering and raising 55 billion farm animals on planet earth and then killing every other creature to do it.

    The way to save black rhinos is to stop killing. Stop eating animals. Stop being cruel to animals, including each other. "Donating" a lot of $$$ - crap paper for causing suffering and death - the usual obscene exchange. Nothing new about it.
  15. william huard
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    william huard - May 01, 2013 3:25 pm
    Facts are facts notoother. SCI is right down there with hounders, trappers, and your garden variety thrill killers as the true bottom feeders in society
  16. Retoother
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    Retoother - May 01, 2013 9:46 am
    Spoken like a true anti-hunter..........
  17. william huard
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    william huard - May 01, 2013 6:12 am
    Google safari club international. In 1979 they tried this assigning animals value nonsense. Then google Richard Mitchell USFWS . He was a corrupt USFWS employee that the Vampires in SCI bribed to get him to grant Endangered species import permits into the us. Then google Kenneth Behring- who tried to get the smithsonian to import two rare argali sheep- coveted by SCI. These people could care less about conservation- the rarer the animal the more they want it... How's lion conservation working out in Africa- it's fueled poaching - and worst of all hand fed tame lions are being killed for trophies and the outfitters sell the lion bone to the Chinese. Look it up
  18. Lionhear
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    Lionhear - April 30, 2013 9:43 pm
    MickeyM--don't you know everything is Walker's fault in Madistan?
  19. Lionhear
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    Lionhear - April 30, 2013 9:39 pm
    @Raven 1--Agree with you on that. Anti-hunters who buy their meat at grocery stores are only paying someone else to do their killing. Much easier to sit on their rear ends, and buy some attractively packaged meat at the Pick 'n' Save without getting their hands bloody.
  20. Retoother
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    Retoother - April 30, 2013 4:57 pm
    Norwood.....she does not care if it is true or not. She is against any type of hunting, any type of management.......she made the same type of comments on the goose threads........way out there.
  21. Retoother
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    Retoother - April 30, 2013 4:55 pm
    You are clueless. They still would have "sold" that rhino to get money. This is called management, something the left in Madison know very little about. They took out a adult male that most likely was going to keep the population down. Do you really think the people managing these black rhinos would do this if it hurt the population. They know way more than you.
  22. Norwood44
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    Norwood44 - April 30, 2013 4:21 pm
    Namibia is one of the poorest countries in Africa, hence my questions. It is possible but unproven that they have the resources you suggest. My point wasn't about rhinos. My point is that you lacked the proof you were requesting of others.
  23. Rosalie
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    Rosalie - April 30, 2013 1:49 pm
    It's common knowledge that wildlife managers and environmentalists relocate wild animals all the time - why does this have to be "supported" . And it's done in very poor countries too - usually by outside environmental organizations who pay locals salaries to help them. This is the approach most animals lovers prefer.

    On the other hand, I suppose these countries know some individuals will pay thousands upon thousand just to be allowed to blow away one of these animals so I suppose that's their strategy for getting money.
  24. MickeyM
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    MickeyM - April 30, 2013 11:37 am
    Are you kidding me! Some how, some way, the very liberal author who always is bashing Walker puts a Walker reference/connection into an article that has absolutely nothing to do with Walker at all! We are talking Rhinos for gods sake! Great journalism as always and again just reinforces that the Madison newspapers and 95% of their writers are so biased against Walker and the GOP.

    By the way, I dont support killing a black rhino regardless of the money donated or it being sterile........

  25. snootyelites
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    snootyelites - April 30, 2013 11:08 am
    Even the liberal CBS 60 minutes thinking Hunting Saves Species!
  26. Cornelius Gotchberg
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    Cornelius Gotchberg - April 30, 2013 11:00 am

    Are you aware that there are actually people that are capable of both taking personal responsibility and of making their own decisions without an over-reaching intrusive government to do that for them?

    Fear not; there are plenty of those that prefer to be parented and told how to think, eat, drink, drive, dress, speak, associate, vote, etc. Some refer to it as the path of least resistence.

    The Gotch
  27. fact_based
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    fact_based - April 30, 2013 10:57 am
    Ho hum, another Republican pretending they're an independent. The woods are full of them.
    He must be SO proud of his killing prowess. Sometimes you've got to destroy the village to save it.
  28. Raven1star
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    Raven1star - April 30, 2013 10:52 am
    Reading the headline I was all set to vent my rage...until I read the actual details. This man gave a significant amount of money to the trust, money which will be used to help conserve the rhino. The population itself is better off with the money than keeping an elderly rhino(life expectancy 35-50 years), and he may be correct in that the rhino could be a danger to younger, fertile rhinos. He also donated the meat.
    For those angry about trophy hunting, yes, it's terrible. But he donated a lot of money, picked an animal that contributed least to the group, and used the meat, so it isn't exactly trophy hunting.
    For those who dismiss guys going out with big guns and killing a defenseless animal-unless you are vegetarian what they are doing is more "courageous" than you, someone who let's other people do the animal killing for them. Have the guts to kill the meat that you eat, then you can complain about hunters.
  29. NADAONE1982
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    NADAONE1982 - April 30, 2013 9:28 am
    You ppl aren't very tolerant, & this is something you espouse to be of a high moral value & just look at the condemnation you're heaping on someone who did it all by the book. He paid his money, all the governments agreed, done deal.
  30. lute
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    lute - April 30, 2013 9:05 am
    It might help make sense of the irony and self-serving "logic" of this story to know that Reinke is a hard core Republican. Enough said.
  31. Norwood44
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    Norwood44 - April 30, 2013 8:25 am
    Not saying the rhino hunter is a subsistence hunter BTW.
  32. snootyelites
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    snootyelites - April 30, 2013 8:15 am
    What a stunning irony. I bet they probably don't know who Gosnell is.
  33. PosterX
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    PosterX - April 30, 2013 8:05 am
    The Forbes "article" basically says DDT is wut?
  34. Rosalie
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    Rosalie - April 30, 2013 7:50 am
    I have donated a great deal of money to save animals but countries do need to focus appeal to those who do not find satisfaction in killing large wild animals that they probably can't nor intend to eat..
  35. Norwood44
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    Norwood44 - April 30, 2013 7:42 am
    I am not sure how I feel about this rhino thing, but I do find it interesting that Rosalie makes an unsupported claim, then asks references from others when they make theirs. Eg...she is sure the rhino could be relocated. Namibia is one of the poorest countries in the world. Funds? Resources? Age of animal? Health impact? What reserve? As for the rhino, it is becoming clear that wildlife populations have to be managed. No better example than deer herds in Wisconsin. Flourishing despite an agressive hunting program. Likewise bear. Both these species are faring better than they were a century ago. City folk also underestimate how many rural poor are subsistence hunters. Not a hunter myself, but a deer is 100 pounts of protein at a very affordable price for many in difficult financial straights.
  36. Rosalie
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    Rosalie - April 30, 2013 7:40 am
    oh Forbes - now that's a joke
  37. Big_Joe
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    Big_Joe - April 30, 2013 7:27 am
    I'll bet most of the people who find this so repugnant see no irony in supporting pro choice. A thin line....
  38. alaska123
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    alaska123 - April 30, 2013 4:31 am
    I do not support African safaris however they are a viable source of money to protect endangered species. If the black market poachers can get more money from hunters than on the black market they will help the population grow instead of wipe them out. Rosalie how much money have you donated to wildlife preservation in Africa or for that matter here in Wisconsin?
  39. Rosalie
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    Rosalie - April 30, 2013 2:15 am
    So you think shows like National Geographic and Nova are not credible? They are probably the only type of TV I watch as television is 99 per cent junk. I don't even have cable or a satellite dish as they are such a waste of money.
  40. Rosalie
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    Rosalie - April 30, 2013 2:13 am
    snootyelites - Let's see you document your absurd statements. Are you referring to Rachel Carson as the "delusional white woman".
    Much of the research on DDT clearly proved that it was causing the decline and near extinction of many bird species,particularly the bald eagle and peregrine falcon.
    As one of my wildlife ecology professor used to say - DDT, when used indoors, was effective in controlling malaria but it was used willy-nilly out of doors. In some countries where it was not banned, people would spray tons of it on thir crops, thinking the more used the better.
  41. River
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    River - April 29, 2013 10:33 pm
    If he had wrestled it to death, I say he can bring it home. Shooting? Nothing manly about that.
  42. lloll
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    lloll - April 29, 2013 9:44 pm
    300k is nothing. If you are truly concerned just give the cash
  43. peggy sue
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    peggy sue - April 29, 2013 9:19 pm
    he wanted his Rhino...
  44. Rosalie
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    Rosalie - April 29, 2013 7:10 pm
    It's likely that that rhino could have been re-located to another reserve. We see that all the time on TV nature series.

    To shoot an animal from a distance with a high powered rifle does not make one a courageous or admirable person - as far as I am concerned, its simply sickening.

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