Vassil, Wikimedia Commons
The co-host of a hunting show on the Outdoor Channel recently spent $350,000 for the chance to hunt an endangered black rhinoceros in southern Africa. Corey Knowlton won the Dallas Safari Club's auction for a permit to hunt the rhino in Namibia. Knowlton says he and his family have received death threats after his name was made public through social media. "As much as I would love them all to live forever, they are going to die," Knowltontold CNN
. "The older males are killing each other, and something has to be done about it."
Nearly any animal can be legally killed in many parts of Africa, so long as the hunter pays the right amount of money. For rare and endangered species, the cost can escalate to many thousands of U.S. dollars.
"National parks are obviously trying to make money," Johnny Rodrigues, Chairman for Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, told Discovery News. "The hunters have to pay the parks if they want to shoot the animals."
It can be a Catch-22, since the parks often struggle to pay their staff, which include those who work to care for and protect the animals. The high price tag of a permit may serve as a deterrent, but it also reflects how much poachers can earn without even benefiting the parks.[/br
Patrick Giraud, Wikimedia Commons
The payment needed to legally shoot an elephant drops to $50,000 in Zimbabwe, with a further loss of $10,000 if the elephant has no tusks. "The reason rhinos are more valuable than elephants is because the horn is so valuable and in such high demand by the Chinese," Rodrigues said.
Patrick Giraud, Wikimedia Commons
$20,000 can allow hunters with appropriate permits to kill several rare animals in many parts of Africa. Leopards are on that list, even though The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists them as "threatened."
Kevin Pluck, Wikimedia Commons
The price tag on lions is also $20,000. In terms of what happens to the dead animals, "As far as I know," Rodrigues said, "once the animals are hunted, they are exported to the hunter's home country." Upon arrival, the hunter may preserve the animal's dead body and put it on display.
The cost to legally hunt a cheetah in Zimbabwe is $20,000. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists them as "vulnerable," but further mentions that "the known cheetah population is approximately 7,500-10,000 adult animals." In 1975, the number of cheetahs in Africa was estimated at 15,000, revealing that this species has significantly declined in only three generations.
Majestic Roan antelopes also can be hunted for $20,000 in parts of Africa. While its population is more numerous than wild cats, this species has been eliminated from large parts of its former range, primarily due to poaching and habitat loss.
Paul Maritz, Wikimedia Commons
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species reports that sable antelopes possess "high value as a trophy animal."
Ikiwaner, Wikimedia Commons
Sometimes the cost to hunt an animal differs if the target is male or female. That is the case for African buffalos, since males have larger horns than females do. The horn size difference costs a hunter an extra two grand to shoot a male African buffalo.
Roland H., Wikimedia Commons
A hunter must pay $5,000 to legally shoot a giraffe in Zimbabwe. The IUCN Red List reports that "a recent preliminary population estimate suggests a decline in the total population has taken place." While giraffes are currently listed as being animals of "least concern," that classification might soon change if the estimate is substantiated.
Valdiney Pimenta, Wikimedia Commons
On the less expensive side of the scale are flamingos, which cost only $100 to legally hunt in Zimbabwe. The value of this and the other animals to conservationists and other animal lovers comes without a price tag, however. To them, the animals are priceless. Nevertheless, by putting a price on the heads of animals, some national parks in Africa earn money that helps to fuel their operations. The biggest problem is poachers, who receive relatively light sentences for their crimes.
Rodrigues explained, "The only thing a poacher would get if they trapped these animals is a jail sentence if they are caught."
Corey Knowlton, the man many speculated was the winner of a controversial auction to shoot an endangered black rhino in Namibia, has finally broken his silence and confirmed that the $350,000 winning bid came from him. In a statement on his Facebook page, Knowlton says:
"Thank you all for your comments about conservation and the current situation regarding the black rhino. I am considering all sides and concerns involved in this unique situation. Please don't rush to judgment with emotionally driven criticism towards individuals on either sides of this issue. I deeply care about all of the inhabitants of this planet and I am looking forward to more educated discussion regarding the ongoing conservation effort for the black rhino."
CultureMap Dallas has managed to get a hold of a video of the rhino auction:
Knowlton is a consultant for a hunting outfit called Hunting Consortium Ltd and has appeared on several TV hunting shows. Some commenters have suggested that, because Knowlton is not the typical mega-millionaire that makes bids like these, he could be bidding on behalf of another person who wishes to remain anonymous -- though that is entirely unconfirmed.
The Dallas Safari Club has been making headlines ever since it announced the controversial auction last year. The DSC claims it will use the money for conservation -- it'll kill this rhino to save others, the argument goes -- and says that the animal chosen to be the target is an older, non-breeding bull male that has been preventing other younger males in the herd from breeding with females.
But a loud chorus of critics disagree, saying that it sends the wrong message and sets the wrong precedent. Jeff Flocken, North American director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, told National Geographic, "taking a highly endangered species, and generating a furor to kill them in the name of conservation is not going to do anything to help them in the long run."
Protesters rallied outside the convention center last Saturday where the auction was held, including one Atlanta couple with their two children, both of whom participated in the protest as well.
"We heard what the Dallas Safari Club was doing and we thought it was just wrong that they were auctioning off to kill a black rhino and we really got upset that they were thinking this," 12-year-old Carter Ries told CBS News. His father, Jim Ries, added, "There's less than 5,000 black rhinos left on the planet, and if our kids ever want to see a rhino left in the wild, we can't be pulling the trigger on every one we say is too old to breed."
Scientists say that there are about 5,055 black rhinoceroses left in the world -- a decline of 96 percent over the past century.
Knowlton's Facebook page has a remarkable trove of photos of him with animals he's hunted in the past.
This article originally appeared on TheDodo.com. More from TheDodo.com:
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