Black Rhino Killed in Controversial Hunt
Corey Knowlton shot the black rhino in Namibia he paid $350,000 hunt and kill.
Hunter Corey Knowlton, who bid $350,000 for the rights to shoot a black rhino in Namibia, has killed the animal. CNN documented the hunt and reported that Knowlton shot the rhino on Monday, May 18.
The auction, which was sponsored by the Dallas Safari Club, took place in January, 2014. It not only raised heaps of money, but also controversy around the idea that money raised through trophy hunting a black rhino could ultimately save the endangered species in the long run.
Just 50 years ago, 70,000 black rhinos roamed savannas. Today there are fewer than 5,000 and 2,000 of them live in Namibia, on one of the country's 79 conservation areas.
According to Namibia's Ministry of Environment and Tourism and a press release from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the money collected from Knowlton's bid will go toward wildlife conservation, anti-poaching efforts and community development programs as part of Namibia's Black Rhinoceros Conservation Strategy.
Even Knowlton, 36, and from Dallas, says he cares deeply for wildlife.
The rhino he shot was an older male that, according to wildlife managers in Namibia's Ministry of Environment and Tourism, was not reproducing and because rhinos are fiercely territorial, was also threatening younger males who could reproduce. Shooting it, the conservation case went, would give the healthy males a better chance at mating with the females.
The Namibian conservation group, Save the Rhino, defended the auction, writing a statement on their website that says:
"It costs around $500,000 a year to run a relatively small rhino program with only 20-30 animals... .Fundraising for rhinos is hard. We're not just competing for funds against other endangered species -- elephants, tigers, polar bears, pandas -- but against cancer charities, children's charities, or the most recent natural disaster. In "An inconvenient Truth," Al Gore asserted that 97 percent of charitable giving goes to people-related causes and 1.5 percent to pet charities, leaving only 1.5 percent for the conservation of our entire planet."
But other wildlife conservation groups do not agree with such means for raising funds. Save the Rhino Trust -- not be confused with Save the Rhino above -- states unequivocally that they have nothing to do with decision-making on issues such as hunting rhinos in or outside of Namibia. On their website, they write:
"We are not responsible for hunting and we are not associated with hunting. Our job at Save the Rhino Trust is to save rhino and that is exactly what we do every waking hour of our lives."
In Defense of Animals points to the culture of trophy hunting as blood-thirsty industry promoted by organizations such as the Safari Club International. IDA writes:
"SCI members kill prescribed lists of animals to win so-called ‘Grand Slam' and ‘Inner Circle' titles. The list of macabre ‘contests' include the Africa Big Five, (leopard, elephant, lion, rhino, and buffalo); the North American Twenty Nine (all species of bear, bison, sheep, moose, caribou, and deer); and the Antlered Game of the Americas, among many other contests."
In Namibia, where poaching is on the rise, rhinos need help. According to Namibia's environment ministry, 11 rhinos have been poached since 2010 and in South Africa overall, 1,215 were poached in 2014.
How the rhino will be saved remains embroiled in controversy. The black rhino killed this week won't be the last. Namibia's Ministry of Environment and Tourism has identified 18 others that need to be eliminated.
You can read an account of Knowlton's hunt here.
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," Knowlton
. "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
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.
$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."
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.
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species reports that sable antelopes possess "high value as a trophy animal."
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.
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.
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."