- (Photo: Reuters)
A buyer at a recent auction paid $350,000 for the chance to kill a black rhinoceros, but now he is revealing that he has received threats against him and his family.
Corey Knowlton said he paid $350,000 for the opportunity to kill a black rhino in order to raise money to protect the endangered species as well as to remove older males that may be a threat to younger, breeding black rhinos.
Still Knowlton revealed that the public outcry has been overwhelming and that various animal rights groups have blasted his decision to kill the animal. It has come to a point where private security had to be hired after threats were levied against him and his family.
"If I sound emotional, it's because I have people threatening my kids," Knowlton told CNN. "It's because I have people threatening to kill me right now [that] I'm having to talk to the FBI and have private security to keep my children from being skinned alive and shot at."
It was revealed that Knowlton was the winner of the Dallas Safari Club's auction for a black rhino hunting permit a week ago and soon after his identity made the rounds on social media.
"I find you and I will KILL you," one user posted on his Facebook page.
"I have friends who live in the area and will have you in their sights also," wrote another commenter.
However, the hunt is still moving forward as planned. In order to ensure the hunt goes smoothly, wildlife officials in Namibia are going to be observing the entire process.
Knowlton is described as an avid hunter and appreciates the relationship and responsibility that is created between man and animal.
"I'm a hunter. I want to experience a black rhino. I want to be there and be a part of it. I believe in the cycle of life. I don't believe that meat, you know, comes from the grocery store. I believe that animal died and I respect it," Knowlton said Thursday night on CNN's "Piers Morgan Live."
Officials will ensure that the black rhino targeted is not a young specimen, but an old male that is no longer able to breed and which poses a threat to other black rhinos due to its aggressive nature.
"These bulls no longer contribute to the growth of the population and are in a lot of ways detrimental to the growth of the population because black rhinos are very aggressive and territorial," Ben Carter, the executive director of the Dallas Safari Club, said in a statement.
"Many cases, they will kill younger, non-breeding bulls and have been known to kill calves and cows," he added.
However, animal rights and conservation supporters are criticizing the auction, insisting that it sends that wrong message and that it undermines animal conservation efforts.
"This auction is telling the world that an American will pay anything to kill their species," Jeffrey Flocken, North American regional director of the Massachusetts-based IFAW, said in a statement. "This is, in fact, making a spectacle of killing an endangered species."