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Black Rhino Hunt Permit Winner Corey Knowlton Reveals Death Threats

17/01/2014 13:25 GMT | Updated 25/01/2014 21:01 GMT

An American man who paid $350,000 (£212,000) to hunt and kill a critically endangered black rhino in Namibia - to apparently help conserve the species - says he has received death threats from animal lovers.

Corey Knowlton - whose public Facebook page shows him astride the carcasses of a number of slaughtered animals - claims such is the concern for his safety that local police and the FBI are now working together to protect him.

But the self-styled 'hunting consultant', who won the permit via an auction held by the Dallas Safari Club in Texas, has defended his actions.

corey knowlton

Death threats: Corey Knowlton won a permit to hunt and kill an endangered black rhino

He told USA Today: “I’m a hunter. I want to experience a black rhino. I want to be intimately involved with a black rhino.

“If I go over there and shoot it or not shoot it, it’s beyond the point.”

The club says the hunt will help protect the species by removing an old, aggressive, non-breeding rhino and by funding future conservation.

"First and foremost, this is about saving the black rhino," said Ben Carter, executive director of the club.

He added all proceeds of the auction will be donated to the Namibian government and will be earmarked for conservation efforts.

black rhino

Knowlton paid £212,000 for the right to slaughter a black rhino in Namibia

The Namibian government issues three hunting permits a year, and this is the first time an auction has been held outside its borders.

Black rhinos are internationally considered an endangered species and the World Wildlife Fund says about 4,800 are alive in the African wild.

On Thursday, an unrepentant Knowlton told CNN Host Piers Morgan: “Piers, just like the gun thing, you’ve been attacked just the way I am about your views of guns, okay?

“We’re human beings, both you and I. I don’t think you should be hated because you believe that. I don’t think I should be hated because I lead my life a certain way.

“They’re threatening my children Piers. They’re threatening to kill me.

SEE ALSO: Hunter Melissa Bachman Sparks Fury After Posing With Dead Lion (GRAPHIC PICTURES)

Animal rights groups say the hunt's conservation claim is "perverse" and "a sad joke".

The Humane Society of the United States described the news of the auction as "disturbing" and vowed to campaign against the issuance of a US permit to return the trophy.

"The world is seeing a concerted effort to preserve the very few black rhinos and other rhinos who are dodging poachers' bullets and habitat destruction," said Wayne Pacelle, president of the HSUS to AFP.

"The last thing they need are wealthy elites from foreign lands coming in to kill them for their heads."

He also questioned the ethics of wealthy, competitive trophy hunters who say they want to kill an animal in the name of conservation.

"Shooting a black rhino in the wild is about as difficult as shooting a parked car," he said.

"If these are multimillionaires and they want to help rhinos, they can give their money to help rhinos. They don't need to accompany their cash transfer with a high caliber bullet," he said.

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