Corey Knowlton: Texas hunter sparks outcry by paying $350,000 to hunt and kill endangered African black rhino

Hunter invited CNN to film controversial shoot

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A Texas hunter has sparked outcry and debate by inviting a television crew film him shooting an endangered black rhinoceros he insists he killed to help protect the species.

Corey Knowlton was seen on CNN firing three shots to take down and kill the bull rhino, as it crashed out of the bush at him and his local guides in Namibia.

The Texan hunter’s actions have sparked an outcry of protest, but Mr Knowlton, who paid $350,000 for the right to shoot the animal, said his actions have helped protect the herd he said it was threatening.

Mr Knowlton secured the right to shoot the animal at a January 2014 auction organised by by the Namibian government. He said the animal was too old to breed but was very aggressive and had killed calves and both male and female rhinos, out of anger and frustration.

“I'm pretty emotional right now, to be honest,” Mr Knowlton told CNN after shooting the animal. “I felt like from day one it was benefiting the black rhino, and I'll feel like that until the day that I die.”

Speaking on the footage released on Wednesday, he added: “Being on this hunt, with the amount of criticism it brought and the amount of praise it brought from both sides, I don’t think it could have brought more awareness to the black rhino.”

There are fewer then 5,000 black rhinos left in the world and they are threatened, relentlessly, by organised poachers. Some activists support the approach taken by Mr Knowlton and termed "conservation hunting", whereby individuals are offered hunting opportunities and then ensuring the money goes towards conversation efforts.

The Washington Post said that the International Union for the Conservation of Nature had said the concern over killing a rhinoceros for sport was understandable but that it was not the same as illegal poaching.

“Well-managed trophy hunting has little to do with poaching, and indeed can be a key tool to help combat it,” it said.

“Without it, African conservationists would not be able to employ the upwards of 3,000 field rangers employed to protect wildlife and enforce regulations.”

Mr Knowlton, who said he he had received death threats, shot the bull after a three-day hunt through the bush with government officials on hand to ensure he killed the correct animal.

“At this point, the whole world knows about this hunt and I think it's extremely important that people know it's going down the right way, in the most scientific way that it can possibly happen,” he said.