Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Dear Common Dreams Readers:
Corporations and billionaires have their own media. Shouldn't we? When you “follow the money” that funds our independent journalism, it all leads back to this: people like you. Our supporters are what allows us to produce journalism in the public interest that is beholden only to people, our planet, and the common good. Please support our Mid-Year Campaign so that we always have a newsroom for the people that is funded by the people. Thank you for your support. --Jon Queally, managing editor

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Hunter Corey Knowlton in the thick, thorny brush of Namibia. (Photo: CNN)

Hunter Corey Knowlton in the thick, thorny brush of Namibia. (Photo: CNN)

Killing for Conservation? Outrage After Auction Winner Fells Endangered Black Rhinoceros

'What kind of precedent does this set?' asks wildlife conservationist

Sarah Lazare

A Texas man who won a controversial $350,000 auction last year for a permit to kill a black rhinoceros on Monday felled one of the endangered giants in Namibia, prompting immediate condemnation from conservation groups and experts who say the slaughter sets a dangerous precedent.

The kill by 36-year-old Corey Knowlten, who hails from Dallas, was captured on video by a CNN team that accompanied him (warning: footage may be disturbing).

Knowlten and the Dallas Safari Club, which sponsored the auction in January 2014, have sought to spin the hunt as in-line with conservation efforts, as the money raised by the bid will allegedly go towards conservation and anti-poaching efforts. "I believe hunting through sustainable use is an awesome tool in conservation that can keep these animals going forever as a species," Knowlten said earlier this year.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, furthermore, claimed in March that "black rhino hunts associated with the imports of two sport-hunted trophies are consistent with the conservation strategy of Namibia."

But numerous conservation groups and experts strongly disagree with the auction.

"I am deeply saddened, disappointed and incredulous that [Knowlten] sees this mission as contributing to the survival of endangered black rhinos," said Jeff Flocken, regional director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare - North America, in a press statement released Wednesday. "[P]aying money to kill one of the last iconic animals on earth does not make you a conservationist."

Ronald Orenstein, Ph.D., wildlife conservationist, and author of the book Ivory, Horn and Blood: Behind the Elephant and Rhinoceros Poaching Crisis told Common Dreams that the rhinoceroses are endangered primarily by commercial illegal trade in horns, not trophy hunting. However, he warned, the Dallas Safari Club auction "sends the wrong message."

"One of the big problems with the current situation is that rhinoceroses have become seen as commodities, as a prestige item," said Orenstein. "The idea that it is alright to shoot a rhino for huge price sends the wrong sort of message about why and how we want to conserve these animals. If the money was the issue, and they wanted to raise money for conservation, there are other ways to do it."

"It commodifies the animal," Orenstein added. "What kind of precedent does this set?"

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.


Abortion Rights Defenders Applaud Judge's Block on Utah 'Trigger Ban'

"Today is a win, but it is only the first step in what will undoubtedly be a long and difficult fight," said one pro-choice advocate.

Brett Wilkins ·

Scores Feared Dead and Wounded as Russian Missiles Hit Ukraine Shopping Center

"People just burned alive," said Ukraine's interior minister, while the head of the Poltava region stated that "it is too early to talk about the final number of the killed."

Brett Wilkins ·

Biodiversity Risks Could Persist for Decades After Global Temperature Peak

One study co-author said the findings "should act as a wake-up call that delaying emissions cuts will mean a temperature overshoot that comes at an astronomical cost to nature and humans that unproven negative emission technologies cannot simply reverse."

Jessica Corbett ·

Amnesty Report Demands Biden Take Action to End Death Penalty

"The world is waiting for the USA to do what almost 100 countries have achieved during this past half-century—total abolition of the death penalty," said the group.

Julia Conley ·

Pointing to 'Recently Obtained Evidence,' Jan. 6 Panel Calls Surprise Tuesday Hearing

The announcement came less than a week after the House panel delayed new hearings until next month, citing a "deluge" of fresh evidence.

Common Dreams staff ·

Common Dreams Logo