Was the recent "conservation hunt" of a black rhino supported by science?
CNN [recently covered](http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/19/africa/namibia-rhino-hunt/) a sanctioned black rhino hunt in Namibia by Texan Corey Knowlton, who bid US$350,000 for the license. In the story, he claims that the hunt was actually supporting conservation of the [critically endangered](http://www.worldwildlife.org/species/black-rhino) species, as they were looking to kill an older, non-reproducing male that was consuming resources and potentially threatening younger, breeding males. The Namibian government has a list of 18 rhinos in the country (out of a total population of about 2,000) that meet the criteria. > Knowlton is targeting one of four black rhinos at the top of the government list, the ones considered "high priority threats to the herd." Knowlton eventually caught up to and killed the animal he was targeting, and [donated the meat](http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/20/africa/namibia-rhino-hunt-meat/) to a local village. CNN.com later published two opinion pieces, one [in support of the hunt](http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/21/opinions/rhino-hunt-is-conservation/index.html) by Dr. Mike Knight, the Chairman of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission's African Rhino Specialist Group (AfRSG) and the South African Development Community Rhino Management Group (SADC RMG), and one [opposed to it](http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/19/opinions/trophy-hunting-not-conservation-flocken/) by Jeffrey Flocken, the North America Regional Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). Knight cites black rhino-specific data in his piece, arguing that in the case of this particular species, limited hunting is actually beneficial. Flocken instead uses a wider argument, citing hunting of polar bears, elephants, and lions, among other species, and claiming that the idea of "conservation hunting" as a whole is flawed. He does not, however, directly address the situation of black rhinos. I have evaluated each side's argument, but have not yet formed a solid opinion, which is why I'm asking here. In the specific case of the black rhino, does the science support the notion of limited elimination of older males? Are there studies that show this has led to an increase in other types of conservation efforts? Does the money spent for licenses actually go towards conservation and assistance for locals?