Dallas Man Pays $350,000 To Kill Endangered Black Rhino — Are Critics Overreacting?

A man from Dallas traveled to Namibia, shot a black rhino after a three-day hunt, and he spent $350,000 for the right to do it. But many people think the reasons he’s used to justify the controversial killing is nonsense.

In the year leading up to this hunt, that man, Corey Knowlton has been vehemently criticized by animal rights groups and even faced death threats for winning a permit from Namibia’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism at the 2014 Dallas Safari Club convention, Lone Star Outdoor News reported.

One of those critics is The International Fund for Animal Welfare. Its North America Regional Director, Jeff Flocken, responded to the death of the endangered rhino on Monday, with some harsh words.

“I am deeply saddened, disappointed and incredulous that he sees this mission as contributing to the survival of (an) endangered (species). If you pay to take a human life and give to humanitarian causes, it does not make you a humanitarian. And paying money to put down one of the last iconic animals on earth does not make you a conservationist.”

But if one listens to the arguments coming from the sides, the situation becomes a bit less cut and dry.

For one thing, the $350,000 will be put to good use – the man’s money will fund the government’s anti-poaching efforts. The location of the hunt was also kept secret, to prevent poachers from finding the site, CNN reported.

And the Dallas hunter wasn’t given free reign of the Namibian wilderness, able to target any rhino that he saw. He was only allowed to shoot one of 20 identified by the very agency that gave the man his permit – old bulls – which are actually a threat to the overall population. Past breeding age, they are unable to add new calf to the herd, and can be so nasty that they keep the younger bulls from mating.

After Corey killed it on Monday, the government confirmed that indeed, he did get one of these older bulls.

Though it’s worth mentioning that the animal is extremely rare – only 5,000 remain on Earth, 2,000 of those in Namibia. And for IFAW, this was not part of the “science of conservation” as the Dallas man has argued; “there’s a lot of other things that we can and must do in order to protect these animals.”

The hunters remain convinced, including Hentie van Heerden, an employee and professional hunter for the Namibian government who accompanied Corey. He said no one in the African country had any concern about him coming to their continent for this purpose; people there “understand hunting.”

As for the guy in the middle of the firestorm, Knowlton showed respect and emotion after the creature was felled, and remains steadfast that carrying out the $350,000 permit was the right thing to do.

“I felt like from day one it was something benefiting the black rhino. … (W)ith the amount of criticism it brought and the amount of praise it brought from both sides, I don’t think it could have brought more awareness.”

So, what’s your opinion? Has his $350,000 been well spent?

[Photo Courtesy Dan Kitwood/Getty Images]