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Black rhino auction winner facing death threats

A man who won an auction to shoot a rare black rhino is coordinating with the FBI on how to best protect his children after receiving death threats, BBC News reports. Corey Knowlton bid $350,000 for the opportunity. The money will go to conservation efforts to save the black rhino, an endangered species. The permit will allow Knowlton to shoot and kill one black rhino in Namibia, which is home to one-third of the black rhinos in the world. There are 1,500 of the rare rhinos in the country.

Namibia issues only three hunting permits per year. This is, however, the first time an auction has been held outside of the country. Knowlton has defended his decision to purchase the permit, explaining that the hunt is much more strategic than just going out and shooting one rhino. He says that the general idea is to identify a male that is no longer of breeding age and is potentially a threat to the herd because of its increasingly aggressive behavior. If a male rhino becomes aggressive to the point of endangering the herd, there is the possibility that the park rangers would take action against the rhino themselves.

Knowlton has had to hire private security for his family since his name was leaked on Facebook and then publicized across the web, The Associated Press reports. He believes that the hunt will be well managed and that the money he paid for the license will go to protect the long-term future of the species.

There are an estimated 4,000 black rhinos remaining in the wild. Demand for the rhino horn has lead to increased poaching. In Asian countries like China and Vietnam there is a widespread believe that powdered rhino horn has medicinal purposes and can even treat cancer. The going rate for rhino horns is $65,000 a kilogram. Tens of thousands of people signed an online petition in the U.S. protesting the sale of the hunting license. However, some do point to the importance of the money raised, which will go to the Namibian government to be used for conservation. Funds for conservation are limited and it can be very expensive to both hire staff and rangers, as well as utilize technology such as tracking. More funds earmarked for conservation could eventually help the species recover.