Auction for Rhino Hunt Goes on Despite Death Threats

The Dallas Safari Club ignores protests from animal rights activists.

ByABC News
January 11, 2014, 1:00 AM

Jan. 11, 2014— -- The chance to hunt an endangered black rhino will be auctioned off this weekend in Texas, where the Dallas Safari Club has pursued its controversial auction despite public outrage and even death threats.

The Texas-based hunting group is holding its annual convention this week in Dallas, where animal rights activists have promised to protest the rhino hunt.

The group has even received death threats because of the auction prize, according to ABC News affiliate station WFAA-TV in Dallas.

The club today is expected auction off a seven-day trip to the Eastern Cape of South Africa to hunt the black rhino. The trip, valued at $28,000, includes a permit to hunt the endangered animal, which has drawn criticism from some conservation and animal rights activists.

There are an estimated 5,055 black rhinos left in the world.

"This is the ultimate in sport hunting as it is extremely challenging because the Black Rhino has very acute senses and is notoriously aggressive," the auction catalogue reads. "Hunters are more likely to become the hunted and not the Hunter!"

Ben Carter, executive director of the club, told ABC News that the auction, and specifically this auction item, will help save the endangered black rhino, even if it seems contradictory.

"There is a biological reason for this hunt, and it's based on a fundamental premise of modern wildlife management: populations matter; individuals don't," Carter said in a statement released in October. "By removing counterproductive individuals from a herd, rhino populations can actually grow."

The group said all of the proceeds from the sale of the permit, estimated to fetch between $250,000 and $1 million, will go toward the Conservation Trust Fund for Namibia's Black Rhino.

But animals rights groups disagree.

Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, said it would make more sense for the wildlife enthusiasts to donate money solely for rhino conservation than to kill one of the animals.

"I think if they were multimillionaires and they were serious about helping rhinos, they could give money to help rhinos and not shoot one along the way," Pacelle said. "The first rule of protecting a rare species is to limit the human [related] killing."

The rhino's size and temperament make it a fairly easy animal to hunt and kill, Pacelle added.

"Rhinos are enormous lumbering animals who confront predators with their horn and physical mass," he said. "Shooting a rhino is about as difficult as shooting a tank. … In terms of the sportsmanship component, it's totally lacking."

The Dallas Safari Club has not responded to ABC News' request for comment.