|Photo of a markhor (Capra falconeri) by Ron Dunnington via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license|
What shofar blower wouldn't want a shofar from horns like these? Yet the markhor goat (Capra falconeri cashmiriensis) is an endangered species. According to Scientific American, only an estimated 300 to 400 head remain of the breed's Kashmiri subspecies.
So what if Rosh Hashanah was approaching, and there was no shofar available. You happened to be in Kashmir and to have a hunting rifle. A markhor ram, with a full rack of horns, comes within shooting distance. Is it permissible to kill the ram in order to fulfill the mitzvah of hearing shofar?
Leave aside, for the moment, questions about whether the animal was in a wildlife preserve, whether the "owner" of the animal gave you permission, and issues of secular law. What is Jewishly right? What is the Halachah?
I do not know what the ancient sages say on this subject. But I do know that we are commanded to protect our garden (Genesis 2:15) and to choose life (Dueteronomy 30:20). To borrow a phrase from Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, protecting an endangered species is "eco-kosher".
As the hypothetical hunter raises his rifle to sacrifice the ram, I call on God to send an angel to stay the execution?