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Texas Rhino Hunter Receives Death Threats
A Texas man who won an auction to hunt an endangered black rhino in Namibia has said he has received death threats from animal lovers.
Corey Knowlton paid $350,000 (£212,000) for a permit which was auctioned by the Dallas Safari Club to raise money to protect and conserve the species.
Mr Knowlton has said he has had to hire full-time security due to death threats, after his name was posted on Facebook and picked up on by several websites.
The FBI earlier this week said it was investigating death threats against members of the club.
"They're wanting to kill me, they're wanting to kill my children, they're wanting to skin us alive," he told television station KTVT.
According to Mr Knowlton's Facebook page, he leads international hunting trips for a Virginia-based company, The Hunting Consortium, and describes himself as a "hunter/conservationist".
He argued that those criticising him had failed to understand that the idea behind the hunt was to target an old, non-breeding male rhino because it was becoming aggressive and threatening other wildlife.
"We're just not going in there and saying 'hey we're on a rhino hunt and, here, have a beer we're going to find a rhino," he told Dallas television station WFAA.
"No, it is a scientific process and we're going to make sure we get the ones that are causing the most problems."
An estimated 4,000 black rhinos remain in the wild and tens of thousands of people have signed online petitions against the auction.
Animal rights groups condemned the "perverse" claims that the hunt was really about conservation.
"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.
"This is, in fact, making a spectacle of killing an endangered species."
Experts say that growing demand for rhino horn in Asia is driving up cases of poaching.
In countries like China and Vietnam, there is a belief that powdered rhino horn has medicinal powers and can impact diseases like cancer. Horns can sell for around $65,000 a kilogram.
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