The decision by the Namibian Department of the Environment and Tourism to have a permit for the hunting of a black rhino auctioned off caused an international outcry.

The decision to put down the black rhino was prompted by the fact that the black rhino is old, male and non-breeding and it threatens the lives of other wildlife. Saturday night’s auction was attended by a high-level ministerial delegation from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, led by the ministry’s deputy permanent secretary Simon Negumbo. The money raised for the Namibian permit will go towards conservation efforts for the species. An American hunter Corey Knowlton purchased the permit for US$ 350,000.

Wayne Pacelle, the chief executive officer and president of the Humane Society of the United States, said the group has a general objection to trophy hunting and considers it morally questionable to raise money for conservation by selling permits to kill endangered species. Anti-hunting and animal rights groups apparently sent death threats to DSC staff regarding the auction.

The Dallas Safari Club, which hosted the auction, had hoped that the permit sale would raise US$ 1 million. DSC said the hunt will help in managing the population and provide an underfunded Namibian government cash in the expensive battle against poachers. The licence allows for the killing of a single, post-breeding bull. DSC Executive Director Ben Carter is quoted to have said: ‘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, nonbreeding bulls and have been known to kill calves and cows’.

The Namibian Minister of Environment and Tourism, Uahekua Herunga, is reported to have said that he was pleased with the amount raised through the sale. The minister conceded that there had been criticism over the government’s decision to allow the killing of the endangered animal, but insisted that: ‘We (Namibia) should be allowed as a country to exercise our right to utilise our natural resources sustainably’.