Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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'Green' Hunting: Tranquilizer Darts Instead of Bullets

A green hunter and an African bongo

(Photo : Morani River Ranch) Chip Wagner poses with the African bongo he shot with a tranquilizer dart in this year's hunt.

The use of tranquilizer darts, an alternative for bullets is giving rise to a pro-conservation kind of hunting, according to an article by the National Geographic published on Sunday.

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The team covered the world's first "catch-and-release" hunting event by Bisbee's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Fund. The "green hunt" event took place in the Morani River Ranch, an exotic game ranch in South Texas in February.

In this hunting event, hunters were armed with a dart gun, which paralyzed game animals instead of killing them. Once unconscious, the animals were taken blood samples and administered with vaccinations by local veterinarians.

Chip Wagner, who had to bid US$ 23,000 for the opportunity to join the hunt, experienced shooting an endangered African bongo, a species of antelope.

"I got a bigger thrill out of it because the animal got up and lived for another day," Wagner said, comparing the experience to traditional hunting.

The Morani River Ranch hosts about 90 exotic animals, which can be hunted for fees. A typical game costs US$ 5,000 while animals like zebras cost US$ 12,000.

Profits from the hunting events are dedicated to animal conservation and research in Africa, according to the organization.

Founder Wayne Bisbee believes that their version of hunting is a good alternative to trophy hunting, which is widely criticized given the need for animal conservation today.

Moreover, they see it serve two purposes: green hunters shoot the animals and scientists could perform their research on the sedated animals.

It could raise awareness on conservation among non-hunters, too, Bisbee added.

However, not all agrees with this kind of conservation.

International Fund for Animal Welfare advisor Kati Loeffler called the green hunt "not legitimate" in terms of conservation. It still reinforces the idea that wild animals are for human entertainment.

Bisbee launched the organization in 2012 as a non-profit branch of his sports fishing business and a way to raise conservation money from hunting.

The organization hopes that the practice spreads beyond Texas.

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