CNN recently covered 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 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 to a local village.
CNN.com later published two opinion pieces, one in support of the hunt 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 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?
As a second, optional question: Are the arguments posed by Flocken against "conservation hunting" in general supported by independent research? Just thinking logically I can imagine they are, as a lot of what he says makes sense in a broader context, if not necessarily in the case of the black rhino. Is there a scientific case for limited, situation-specific hunting, or should all forms of it be discouraged?
Note: I'm asking this here instead of Skeptics because I'm looking for a scientifically-supported answer. If you think it's better suited there, let me know and I'll move it.