That's the question on the mind of the TV newsmagazine 60 Minutes.
Those exotic species were the focus of a recent 60 Minutes report on big game hunting in the Lone Star State. Correspondent Lara Logan filed a report on the emergence of hunting these rare animals recently – conversely, as part of a program meant to increase their population.
Charly Seale, Executive Director of the Exotic Wildlife Association (based some 100 miles out of Austin) defended the practice. He tells the news magazine his program has brought the African antelope back from near extinction:
“Our members own more numbers of rare and endangered species than any other association in the world. Three of our biggest successes have been the scimitar horned oryx, the addax and the dama gazelle. Our numbers have absolutely just skyrocketed in the last, last 15-20 years.”
But in addition to breeding the animals, breeders also cull their numbers by selling a limited number of permits for hunting: Fees can run up to $50,000 to hunt the rare Cape Buffalo. Seale says the proceeds pay for the association’s breeding program, but hunting opponents have decried the hunts.
Friends of Animals president Priscilla Feral tells 60 Minutes “They're breeding these antelopes, they're selling the antelopes, and they're killing the antelopes. And they're calling it conserving them. They are saying it's an act of conservation and that's lunacy.”
Additional reporting from 60 Minutes on the issue can be viewed here.