A North Texas man who paid $350,000 for the right to hunt an endangered African black rhino says he fears for his safety.
Corey Knowlton of Royse City says that after being revealed as the winner of last weekend's controversial Dallas Safari Club auction, he's received death threats and has hired full-time security. He told KTVT (Channel 11) Wednesday that some people "are wanting to burn my house down." One threat read: "I hope you die slowly and painful."
Knowlton says his goal is to support black rhino conservation efforts. The safari club has said 100 percent of the money raised would go toward conservation efforts. "The scientists are the ones that are telling us this is the most effective way to raise money to save the rhino and expand the black rhino population," safari club executive director Ben Carter told KERA. The club points to letters of support from such organizations as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Carter says the rhino to be hunted is an old bull that's past the point of helping sustain the herd. The club says the rhino was likely to be targeted for removal anyway because it was becoming aggressive.
Before the auction, various club members had received death threats, and the FBI investigated.
Critics of the auction say all members of an endangered species should be protected. There are about 4,000 or 5,000 black rhinos around the world. Even Bob Barker, the legendary game show host, sounded off about the auction, calling it a “cheap thrill,” and asked the Dallas Safari Club to call off the event.
Jeff Pierce, an attorney with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, told KERA that hunting a critically endangered rhino makes no sense.
“We think it’s absurd to incentivize the killing of endangered species for profit,” Pierce said. “You can’t fight the killing of rhinos by killing rhinos.”
Corey, along with a silent partner, agreed to put up $350,000 for the permit granted by the African country of Namibia. … Corey said he has simply put up $350,000 for rhino conservation and anti-poaching causes. He wants people to know that if he hadn’t made the bid there would be less money going toward a good cause.
Knowlton told WFAA-TV (Channel 8): “I'm a hunter. I want to experience a black rhino. I want to be intimately involved with a black rhino. If I go over there and shoot it or not shoot it, it's beyond the point."
Corey Knowlton of Royse City has hunted around the world.
His Facebook page is filled with photos of large deer he's tracked and killed — wild boar, a bear, even a massive shark.
Knowlton leads expeditions for both everyday Joes and billionaires looking to hunt, and has been a fixture on The Outdoor Channel.
This story includes reporting from the Associated Press.