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article imageAuction winner of rhino hunt fears he's the endangered species

By Karen Graham     Jan 17, 2014 in Environment
Chris Knowlton looks forward to facing and becoming intimately involved with a black rhino. He's the lucky winner of an auction that gives him a permit to legally shoot one of the endangered beasts. Now he fears for his life, right in his own backyard.
Knowlton, age 35, is an experienced hunter and guide with the Dallas, Texas-based international guide service, The Hunting Consortium. He is also the co-host for a hunting show on the Outdoor Channel, called Jim Shockey’s The Professionals. He's what used to be called a "Great White Hunter."
Knowlton's online biography proudly says he has hunted more than 120 species on every continent. Appearing on CNN's "Piers Morgan Live" this week, he said, “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.”
But the hunter has become the "hunted." After his winning bid of $350,000 was accepted, his Facebook page started filling up with derogatory comments and death threats over the upcoming safari to Namibia. “You are a BARBARIAN. People like you need to be the innocent that are hunted,” commented one lady. Other comments were direct threats to his safety, with one person writing, “I find you and I will KILL you."
In the safety of a hotel room in Las Vegas, Nevada, with several security guards nearby, Knowlton told a CNN reporter that he not only fears for his life, but the lives of 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.”
Despite feeling endangered himself, Knowlton is desperate to explain to his critics the reasons behind his wanting to experience the thrill of killing a black rhino. Insisting he is an avid conservationist, he points out that killing an old black rhino is helping to save critically endangered species around the world. That is one statement many people are having a hard time digesting.
Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society, says that even killing one animal of an endangered species means there is one less of that species left on the planet. He posted on his online blog that killing one animal to save the species is an "Orwellian idea." Pacelle is afraid this idea will inspire people to pay millions to shoot an orangutan, elephant or something else. Knowlton, of course, disagrees with this notion, saying the kill will protect the species, and he is backed by conservationists and scientists around the world.
It will ultimately depend on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as to whether or not Mr. Knowlton will go on a safari in Namibia to hunt the black rhino. The hunter will need a permit, and the last time the Fish and Wildlife Service issued a permit was in March of 2013, and the agency says it hasn't decided if it will issue another one. “The issuance of that permit (March 2013) does not guarantee the issuance of future permits for the import of black rhino sport-hunted trophies from Namibia or elsewhere,” read a statement.
More about Black rhino, Auction, Namibia, Endangered species, security detail
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