Jeers to the Dallas Safari Club for auctioning off a black rhino hunting permit in Namibia for $350,000. The Safari Club claims the auction was done in the name of conservation to actually save the threatened black rhinoceros.
Wealthy hunters like the one who allegedly won the auction, Corey Knowlton, gathered inside the Dallas Convention Center Jan. 11 to bid on the chance to hunt one of the world’s most endangered animals. (Rumors are circulating that Knowlton is not the true bidder, but instead made the purchase on behalf of a behind-the-scenes millionaire.)
Regardless of who the bidder is, if this well-heeled hunter was so concerned about the well-being and conservation of rhinos then he should just donate the $350,000 to Namibia for underfunded rhino-related projects such as anti-poaching patrols and forego hanging the rhino’s head on their walls. Instead he chooses to be no different than the poachers who he claims his money will help bring to justice.
If you check out Knowlton’s Facebook page, he writes about the controversy of this auction, “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.”
It’s insulting to the American public that this hunter posts such comments alongside numerous photos of himself alongside the dead carcasses of all the “inhabitants of the planet” he says he cares about, including a wolf, a ram and a bear. He makes a living in the hunting tourism industry as an employee of the Hunting Consortium.
A U.S.-based auction of a black rhino-hunting permit, with promised cooperation from the federal government, is not just unprecedented; it is a disgrace and violation of the Endangered Species Act. The black rhino was listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act ESA in 1980, effectively shutting down any importation of black rhino hunting trophies into the United States.
Friends of Animals’ Wildlife Law Program is planning to take action when the import permit application is submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
In April 2013, the USFWS, which is an agency that gets some of its paycheck from the hunting industry, issued the first Endangered Species Act import permit for a hunter-taken black rhino. The permit was for an old, aggressive, non-breeding bull taken in Waterberg Plateau National Park in Namibia in 2009. The USFWS claimed the hunt removed an animal that was counterproductive to herd growth and generated $175,000 for rhino conservation efforts.
It is troubling that the USFWS, the Dallas Safari Club and the Namibian government justify slaughtering an endangered species by pointing out that they have targeted “only geriatric bulls, which are marginalized in population and don’t contribute to reproduction.”
How dare they take this cavalier attitude towards a conscious being? We question how the USFWS, Dallas Safari Club and the Namibian government treat their own senior citizens and elders?
When Namibia reopened hunting for black rhino in 2009 as part of a comprehensive conservation plan, the door was opened to get import permits issued under an exception to the general prohibition in the ESA. It’s time to shut the door on this practice and end the hunting of endangered species of any kind.
Tell the Dallas Safari Club’s executive director Ben Carter to stop auctioning endangered species hunting permits. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 972-980-9800; or at 13709 Gamma Road, Dallas, Texas 75244.
And let the USFWS know you do not support the issuing of import permits.
Check back to our website to see when the USFWS has received the import permit application. Once the agency has received the application comments can be sent to: Brenda Tapia, Division of Management Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 212, Arlington, VA 22203; or email DMAFR@fws.gov.