Hunting the Black Rhino
Trophy Killing and the Management of Endangered Wildlife
Department of Biology
University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown
This case study was developed to teach students the importance of understanding the behavior of wildlife, explore the difficulty in making management decisions when the public is invested in a species, and to help students develop critical thinking and public speaking skills. Students learn about the conservation status and behavior of the black rhinoceros by reading a primary literature article and answering a series of questions. They then listen to a Radiolab podcast that explores the moral dilemma of whether it is ethically appropriate to shoot an endangered rhinoceros if the purpose is to raise conservation funds. Students are assigned one of five positions and write essays to prepare for a town hall style debate in which they examine the pros and cons of such a decision. The Radiolab podcast is based on real events, and is also representative of many ethical dilemmas that wildlife managers regularly face. This case study is appropriate for several upper division biology courses.
- Gain an understanding of how complicated and difficult management decisions can be when the public feels emotionally invested in such decisions; this is the primary objective.
- Understand that there may be no single, ideal solution to some problems that will satisfy everyone.
- Increase their understanding of why studying animal behavior is important for management of animal populations.
- Practice reading and interpreting a primary literature review article.
- Improve their critical thinking and writing skills while developing a position essay.
- Gain confidence and skill in public speaking during the town hall debate.
Keywordswildlife; animal behavior; megafauna; rhinoceros; rhino; hunting; flipped activity; conservation; endangered
Topical AreasEthics, Policy issues
Educational LevelUndergraduate upper division
Type / MethodsAnalysis (Issues), Debate, Dilemma/Decision, Flipped, Journal Article, Public Hearing, Role-Play
Subject HeadingsBiology (General) | Environmental Science | Wildlife Management | Zoology |
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As part of their preparation for the case study, students listen to the podcast below:The Rhino Hunter