A permit to hunt down and kill an endangered black rhino in Namibia has been sold at an auction for $350,000, in a move that has been slammed by the animal rights activists.
The bidding took place on Saturday evening inside the Dallas Convention Center in Texas, where wealthy hunters bid for the chance to hunt the endangered animal.
The Dallas Safari Club, which auctioned off the black rhino hunting permit, says that the bidding was done for conservation. They stated that the auction will help protect the entire species by removing an old, aggressive rhino. The organizers claim that the older rhinos actually pose a threat to younger rhinos, which they sometimes kill.
"These bulls no longer contribute to the growth of the population and are in a lot of ways detrimental to the growth of the population because black rhinos are very aggressive and territorial. In many cases, they will kill younger, non-breeding bulls and have been known to kill calves and cows," club Executive Director Ben Carter told Reuters.
However, the auction has met with fierce criticism from conservationists. The winning bidder - who has not been named - will now have the permit to hunt down the black rhino in the southern African nation. Namibia is said to be populated by a third of the world's 5,000 black rhinos.
The Safari Club officials said that all proceeds will be donated to the Namibian government.
The auction, which will see the sacrifice of one animal for the so-called greater good of the endangered species, has been labelled by critics and animal conservation groups as "perverse" and a "sad joke", the CNN reported.
"This auction is telling the world that an American will pay anything to kill their species," Jeffrey Flocken of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) told the Associated Press.
"This is, in fact, making a spectacle of killing an endangered species," he added.
The incident has prompted one of the fieriest debates on how to preserve the animal, which has now come to the verge of being extinct due to people's increasing appetite for its horn - a lucrative material used in Asia as a traditional medicine and elsewhere for daggers and ornaments.
The auction by the Dallas Safari Club has become so controversial that it received a series of death threats, the organizers said. The FBI is currently investigating the threats.