Killing Rhinos In Order to Save Them

Posted by Jeff Pierce, ALDF Litigation Fellow on December 10, 2014

Last January, amid enormous controversy, the Dallas Safari Club auctioned a permit to kill an endangered black rhino in Namibia. ALDF denounced the auction in a letter to the Club.


The winning bidder, Corey Knowlton of North Texas, promised $350,000 to the Namibian government. That money would buy him the right to kill the animal, but under international and federal law Knowlton needs U.S. permission before he can haul the dead rhino’s carcass home with him.

In November, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) invited public comment on Knowlton’s import permit application. In its comments (PDF), ALDF argued that the law and policy of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) require FWS to deny the permit.

In his application, Knowlton alleged that Namibia is depending on his contribution to conserve rhinos. At the same time, Knowlton announced his intention to keep his money if FWS denies him permission to bring the dead animal home. By holding the auction proceeds hostage, Knowlton fails to submit his application “in good faith,” the first of three requirements under the ESA.

It also shows that Knowlton is not committed to conservation. To the contrary, Knowlton told local television in January, “I’m a hunter . . . I want to experience a black rhino. I want to be intimately involved with a black rhino.” The Club’s executive director Ben Carter said, “Most people that have an animal mounted, it’s their memory of their experience . . . When they look at it, they remember everything. That’s what [Knowlton] bid the money on, that opportunity.”

Meanwhile, poachers killed 1,020 rhinos in South Africa this year alone. Rhino poaching has tripled since 2011. Traffickers feed the inexhaustible appetite for trinkets and ineffectual “traditional” remedies in China and Vietnam, where rhino horn costs more than gold or cocaine. Despite this surge in poaching, nearly all the materials Knowlton submitted were from 2009 or prior. He therefore failed to demonstrate that his importing a dead rhino would help—instead of harm—black rhinos in the wild, the second requirement under the ESA.

Finally, not just illegally poached rhinos, but dead and mounted rhinos in the United States fuel the illegal trade that threatens the survival of the species. FWS has already acknowledged that the many pro-hunting groups and taxidermy auction houses in Texas make Knowlton’s home state ground zero for the illicit trade in rhino horn. FWS has even created a special task force—Operation Crash—consisting of 150 law enforcement officers who work undercover to catch would-be smugglers of rhino horn in Texas and elsewhere. Under the third and final requirement of the ESA, FWS cannot grant the permit if doing so would violate the purposes and policy of the ESA. It would indeed violate the ESA’s purposes and policy for FWS to invest in Operation Crash while simultaneously granting permission for more rhinos to die and new rhino parts to enter Texas.

ALDF urges Texas, which is known for its so-called “compassionate conservatives,” to adopt “compassionate conservation.”

9 thoughts on “Killing Rhinos In Order to Save Them

  1. jasprit mangat says:

    this is a crime and should be banned & stopped immediately.

  2. alan reid says:

    Disgusting, and should be banned.

  3. Richard Ordonez says:

    With countless numbers of endangered wildlife losing their lives to greed and stupidity, this proposal of “killing Rhinos in order to save them” ranks as one of the most ignorant and moronic ideas I have ever come across. Not surprised that it would originate from a stupid, inbred hick from Texas. Corey Knowlton needs to be stuffed and mounted. He equates to wasted sperm and his momma should have swallowed him instead!

    1. Maria says:

      i completely agree, he needs to be killed and stuffed. These beautiful creatures are being slaughtered for GREED And Stupidity. Each poacher needs to be killed on site!!! That is the only way this will end. Breaks my heart how people are so evil in this world…

  4. SAD CASE OF GREED AND STUPIDITY. SORRY FOR OUR GRANDKIDS, Who will never see one in their lifetime.

  5. Sad case of greed and selfishness.

  6. K says:

    Your killing ~ God creature’s..

  7. Maria says:

    Please we must all work together to enforce tougher penalties. This is a joke, each rhino killed should be a sentence of no less then 25 to life or even more. The poachers should be killed on site if caught trying to harm these beautiful animals. In addition we should have army fully armed protecting the wildlife and help to conserve. These beautiful animals are PRICELESS..much more valuable then money, or anything else in this world. People are SOO evil..I sit and watch and I cry..yes cry when I see what is happening..I feel so helpless. Please remember WHEN PEOPLE, GOOD PEOPLE SPEAK they are HEARD. We must stand together!!!

  8. Kat says:

    This is very sad. This rhino has no idea his life, HIS LIFE, was auctioned off. That is sickening. This killer of innocent creatures will face his karma one way or another.

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