The Dallas Safari Club in the US has auctioned a licence to kill an African black rhino in Namibia – a move that conservationists have labelled as a “sad and perverse joke”.
The organisation, based in Texas, held an auction on Saturday night amid protests by animal rights and conservation campaigners. The permit was sold for $350,000 (£212,000) and allows the winner – who remained anonymous – to hunt and kill one of the few black rhinos left in the African country.
The club has defended the auction by saying that the money will fund go towards conservation efforts and that the animal that will be killed will be a non-breeding, old individual, aggressive to other rhinos.
There are fewer than 5,000 black rhinos left in the wild, as a result of poaching for their horn and habitat loss. Namibia issues only three hunting permits per year, but it is the first time that one has been released out of the country.
Jeffrey Flocken from International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) told the Associated Press that the conservation plea made by the club sounded like a “sad” and “perverse” joke.
“This auction is telling the world that an American will pay anything to kill their species”, Flocken said.
He added in a statement, “If black rhinos and other dwindling species are to have a future, people must be encouraged to value animals for their inherent worth, not for their closing price at a Texas auction house.
“Instead of helping the conservation cause, as they claim to be doing, the Dallas Safari Club is sending the message that killing endangered animals is not only fun, but conscientious as well.”
The Humane Society International has launched a petition for the US Fish and Wildlife Service to prevent the winner of the permit from taking the trophy in the US.