A Texas hunting club that auctioned off a permit to shoot an endangered black rhinoceros in Africa said it will cancel the hunt if a federal agency denies the winning bidder's request to bring the dead animal back to the US as a trophy.
Corey Knowlton bid $350,000 (€281,000) at a January auction that the Dallas Safari Club billed as a fundraising effort to save the endangered species.
Last spring, he applied for a permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service that would enable him to import the rhino's body following the hunt in Namibia. But he's still waiting to hear back.
The agency is applying extra scrutiny to Knowlton's request because of the rise in poaching, said spokesman Gavin Shire.
If the permit is denied, the safari club plans to refund Knowlton's money that was pledged to a rhino conservation fund in the southwestern African country.
"Most people that have an animal mounted, it's their memory of their experience," said Ben Carter, the safari club's executive director. "It's not always, 'Look at what I've shot.' When they look at it, they remember everything. That's what he bid the money on, that opportunity."
The wildlife service expects to make a decision after the public comment period ends Dec. 8, taking into account the state of the herd in Namibia, where 1,800 of the world's 4,880 black rhinos live.