A Dallas man's $350,000 rhino trophy has PETA and other conservationist groups livid after Corey Knowlton actually killed one of the rare black rhinos in front of TV video crews. But the big game hunter says his actions will not make the black rhino extinct, and he actually claims he is helping to preserve the species.
In a related report by the Inquisitr, female hunter Rebecca Francis upset many with her dead giraffe photo since she was shown smiling while next to her trophy, but the hunter claims she actually did a service for both the giraffe and the locals living in the area.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, the black rhino's population numbers in 2015 stood at only 4,848 rhinos. To put this number in perspective, when the Inquisitr reported on the black rhino's extinction, the population stood at 5,055 rhinos, and back during the 1960's there were 70,000 black rhinos roaming the wild. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) says there were about 850,000 black rhinos alive before hunting and poaching pushed the species to the edge of extinction.
At the same time, Namibia's black rhino management plan has has grown the population from 2,400 in 1995 to 4,880 by 2010. The reason why the Dallas man's $350,000 rhino trophy is allowed is because Namibia also allows five older bulls to be culled from the herd once a year. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) actually helped set up the plan to allow two big game hunters from Texas, including Corey Knowlton, to buy hunting permits for two black rhinos.
"Black rhinos are very territorial so you will have an older male that is keeping younger males from reproducing," explained Tim Van Norman of the FWS. "By removing these older males from the population, you get an increase in the production of calves. Younger males are able to impregnate the females that are in that area so you get more offspring than from some of these older males."
The Dallas man's $350,000 rhino hunting permit was actually purchased in January of 2014, but Corey Knowlton did not go black rhino hunting until this week. Government officials followed Knowlton to ensure that he only killed the correct black rhino.
Accompanied by professional hunters and trackers, Knowlton downed the rhino with a high-powered rifle after a three-day hunt. His first shot only injured the black rhino and the second was fatal.
The Dallas hunter also explained to the TV camera crew why he felt the black rhino's death was justified.
"The whole world knows about this hunt and I think it's extremely important that people know it's going down the right way, in the most scientific way that it can possibly happen," Knowlton explained, according to CNN. "I felt like from day one it was something benefiting the black rhino. Being on this hunt, with 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 to the black rhino."
As might be expected, PETA disagrees with this assessment. PETA Foundation Counsel Delcianna Winders said the animal rights group sued the U.S. FWS primarily because Knowlton was allowed to remove his trophy from Africa and bring it back to America. They claim this amounts to a massive loophole in the Endangered Species Act and turns the law into a play-to-kill scheme.
"It's almost like auctioning off a child on the black market and saying it's OK because the some of the money is going to an anti-trafficking group," Winders said.
What do you think about the explanation for the Dallas man's $350,000 rhino trophy hunt?
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