The hunter who placed the winning bid of $350,000 for the right to kill one of Namibia's 1,800 remaining black rhinos has taken to Facebook to let people know he is "considering all sides and concerns involved in this unique situation."
"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," says Knowlton at the end of his Facebook post.
In October, the Dallas Observer reported that the club had obtained a special permit from the Namibian government, as well as clearance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, to host the event. According to the club, auctioning the hunt of an older male rhino beyond the age of breeding was the best possible way to raise funds for the Save the Rhino Trust. The trust has distanced itself from the auction, noting on its home page that it does not have "any decision making power on issues such as hunting rhino in or outside of Namibia and we are not at all part of these decisions.
"We do not directly receive money from hunting, we have nothing to do with hunting, and we have not at all been approached in this regard either, so to say that we will be receiving money from a rhino hunt is entirely inaccurate," the message on the home page continues.
Ben Carter, director of the Dallas Safari Club, told the Observer in October that the permit was expected to bring in as much as $750,000. Obviously, the auction fell well short of that mark.
Knowlton is listed as a hunting consultant for the Hunting Consortium, a Virginia-based company that offers "the serious sportsman the finest hunting adventures in the world." His profile describes him as "one of the [hunting tourism] industry's rising stars," with particular expertise in North American big-game hunting. Page Six asserts that Knowlton likely purchased the permit for a client.
"We feel that it is far better to allow this rhino to be hunted in exchange for a huge donation to the anti-poaching campaign, rather than letting him die of natural causes," Hunting Consortium presdient Robert Kern told Page Six in an email.
According to Save the Rhino International, rhino populations have plummeted from about 500,000 at the beginning of the 20th century to just 29,000 today. The black rhino has been a big target, with populations falling from 65,000 in 1970 to 2,300 in 1993. The population has bounced back a bit to 5,055 today.