Hunter shoots rare rhino, says hunt helps to protect species

Hunter shoots rare rhino, says hunt helps to protect species
A ranger walks behind a pair of black rhinoceros, highly endangered animals, at the Imire Rhino and Wildlife Conservation Park in Zimbabwe.

A big game hunter from Texas who paid US$350,000 (S$467,000) to kill a black rhino in Namibia has shot the animal and said that doing so would help to protect the critically endangered species.

Mr Corey Knowlton, 36, received death threats after making the winning bid in an auction of a rare rhino hunting permit last year by the Dallas Safari Club.

He shot the rhino with a high-powered rifle after a three-day hunt through the bush, The Telegraph reported.

Mr Knowlton was accompanied by Namibian government officials who were there to ensure that the animal was an older male that could no longer breed.

THREE BULLETS

The rhino was hit by three bullets before being tracked for an estimated half hour and finished off.

After shooting the rhino, Mr Knowlton appeared close to tears.

He said: "Any time you take an animal's life, it's an emotional thing. 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."

Mr Knowlton told CNN in a footage released on Wednesday: "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 exact location of Mr Knowlton's hunt was kept secret to avoid tipping off poachers, AFP reported.

Television footage showed him accompanied by a professional hunter and local trackers as they tried to find a rhino that was approved for killing.

His first shots injured the animal before he fired the fatal bullets.

Since 2012, Namibia has sold five licences a year to kill individual rhinos. It uses the money to fund conservation projects and anti-poaching protection.

The only rhinos selected for the hunts are old ones that no longer breed and that pose a threat to younger rhinos.

About 850,000 black rhinos lived in the wild for much of the 20th century but hunting cut the numbers to only 2,400 by 1995.

But their numbers have since recovered slightly to 5,000.

A spokesman for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, which opposed the hunt, said: "These are incredibly majestic creatures and their worth alive is far greater than when they are dead."


This article was first published on May 22, 2015.
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