A Dallas conservation group sold a rare license to hunt an
endangered black rhino in Africa for $350,000 at an auction held
Saturday night, stirring outrage among conservationists and leading to
death threats against the auction's organizer.
Wagner, a spokesman for the Dallas Safari Club, which sponsored the
closed-door event, confirmed the sale of the permit for a hunt in the
African nation of Namibia. He declined to name the buyer.
The club had hoped to raise as much as $1 million for conservation efforts.
has come from groups including People for the Ethical Treatment of
Animals (PETA), which said the sale is a case of letting rich hunters
buy a thrill at the cost of a rhino's life. About 4,800 black rhinos are
believed to be living worldwide, according to the World Wildlife
Federation. The Namibian tourism ministry says about 1,750 live in that
"They need to be protected, not sold to the highest bidder," Jeffrey
Flocken of the International Fund for Animal Welfare told CNN. "It also
sends a dangerous message that these iconic and disappearing animals
are worth more as dead trophies to be mounted and hung on a wall in a
Texas mansion than living in the wild in Africa."
government manages the population of black rhinos and grants about three
hunting licenses a year, to allow the culling of older, less healthy
animals, the club says.
"I think what it is, to be honest, is a
lot of people are just uninformed," the club's executive director, Ben
Carter, said in an interview with KERA, a public radio station in
Dallas. "They don't know anything about how the world works out there in
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has endorsed the
auction, saying limited culling of males too old to breed can boost the
overall population by reducing fighting among other males and by
lowering juvenile mortality. Namibia uses money from annual auctions to
fund black rhino counts, improve investigation of crimes against rhinos
and trace rhino horn stolen by poachers.
That rationale was mocked by 90-year-old game-show host and animal-rights activist Bob Barker in a letter released by PETA.
"As an older male myself, I must say that this seems like a rather harsh way of dealing with senior citizens," Barker wrote.
Carter said he and his family have received death threats after the
sale was publicized. The FBI confirmed that it is investigating alleged
threats against multiple club members, KERA reported.
A petition on MoveOn.org to stop the sale had drawn 1,871 signatures by Saturday afternoon.
have to be the dumbest creatures on this planet if we believe this is a
good thing to do,'' Wanda Hodge of Marion, Ky., wrote on MoveOn.org.
"It makes me sick to my stomach."