Want to hunt a wild rhino in its natural habitat? If you have $350,000, then you just might be able to. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service recently gave its stamp of approval to a hunting license purchased last year at a Texas auction by Corey Knowlton. After a year of debate, the agency has decided to allow the carcass to be returned home to the US after the rhino hunt is completed in the South African nation of Namibia.
From day one, the rhino hunt has caused controversy, as conservationists around the world argue that the act sends the wrong message. Since winning the auction at the Dallas Safari Club in January of 2014, Knowlton has received death threats on multiple occasions. In addition to the death threats, over 100,000 people signed a petition to block the license and thousands of emails were sent to Knowlton and the Dallas based club, expressing their anger over the proposed hunt.
The proceeds from this and one other auctioned hunt total about half of a million dollars, most of which is said to go towards helping protect these majestic creatures. However, opponents are currently questioning this approach, suggesting for the money to simply be donated instead.
The rhinoceros is a species in constant danger. Last year alone, poachers killed more than a thousand animals just for their horns, which are shipped off to a black market and sold for their supposed medicinal purposes. An urban legend has spread that the horns are capable of curing cancer, and thus, they go for prices higher than gold – up to an astronomical $45,000 per pound – which makes these animals incredibly hot targets for illegal poaching.
Researchers claim that only 25,000 animals, 5,000 of which are black rhinos, remain on the planet – mostly living in South Africa and Namibia. Proponents of the hunt say that the money raised will go a long ways in helping the underfunded Namibian government’s conservation efforts as they attempt to thwart off poachers and protect the rhino population on their land.