A controversial permit to hunt an endangered Black Rhino in Namibia has been auctioned off in the US for a record $350,000.
Despite criticism from animal welfare groups and conservation activists the Dallas Safari Club defended the action, saying that the money raised will go to funding conservation work, and the death of an older, aggressive rhino will help protect the species.
Namibia is home to about a third of the world's estimated remaining 4,000 black rhinos and issues three hunting permits a year.
This is the first time a permit has been auctioned off outside Namibia.
The auction was held at a Dallas convention centre amid tight security as Safari Club members and organizers have received death threats which the FBI has said it is investigating. Dozens of protesters gathered outside.
The winner, who remains unnamed - will get the opportunity to hunt an old, non-breeding male rhino.
The auction organizer said older animals often pose a threat to younger rhinos as they are aggressive and can sometimes charge and kill.
All proceeds from the auction will be donated to the Namibian government and its conservation efforts, money that is sorely needed given the fierce onslaught on rhino populations globally from hordes of voracious rhino horn consuming Chinese and Vietnamese.
Nevertheless, animal rights groups have described the hunt's claims to be helping conservation as “a sad joke".