A hunter from Texas who shelled out $350,000 to hunt and kill a black rhinoceros in Namibia was able to shoot the animal on May 18.
Corey Knowlton won the license to hunt the rhino during an auction held in Dallas early last year, at which time he already began to receive scathing criticisms from conservationists, along with death threats.
However, Knowlton, who hunted the black rhino for three days before finally shooting it with a high-powered rifle, said that he did it to be able to protect the critically endangered black rhino.
"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," the hunter told CNN. He had a camera crew of the international news company follow him throughout the hunt, along with officials of the Namibian government who were there to make sure that the correct animal would be killed.
"I believe in the survival of the species," Knowlton added, a message that seemed paradoxical to the idea of hunting down animals in cold blood.
Namibia has been selling five permits per year since 2012 for killing black rhinos, stating that the money received from the auctions is important to fund the conservation projects for the animal and the anti-poaching measures in place to protect its population.
The rhinos selected to be killed in the hunts are the old black rhinos that threaten the younger rhinos. The older rhinos also no longer breed, and it would be detrimental to the recovery of the population if an old rhino would kill a young rhino that can still produce offspring.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the black rhino population once stood at 850,000. However, due to hunting and poaching activities, only 2,400 remained in 1995. The population has since recovered slightly to currently around 5,000 black rhinos.
Conservation groups are still opposed to the hunt despite the explanation, with International Fund for Animal Welfare CEO and President Azzedine Downes saying that the rhinos are worth much more alive than dead as a result of the hunting activities.
The footage taken by CNN revealed that Knowlton was with a professional hunter and local trackers as they looked for one of the rhinos that had been approved to be killed. Upon locating one of the black rhinos, Knowlton shot at the animal. The first shots injured the black rhino; the succeeding shots ended its life.
"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," Knowlton said, who was emotional after the hunt ended.
Photo: Frank Vassen | Flickr