Rhino Killers’ Bid to Bring Trophies Back to U.S. Draws Fire From PETA

Dallas Safari Club Auction Winners Can't Pay Their Way out of Endangered Species Act Prohibitions

For Immediate Release:
December 9, 2014

David Perle 202-483-7382

Dallas – PETA has submitted urgent comments calling on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to deny Michael Luzich and Corey Knowlton permits to import the endangered black rhinos they have killed and will kill, respectively, in Namibia after winning two recent Dallas Safari Club auctions.

As PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—notes in its comments, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) expressly prohibits the import or export of endangered animals, with very limited exceptions (such as if it will enhance the species in the wild), a regulation that Luzich and Knowlton have attempted to bypass by offering to pay money to the Namibian government in a “pay-to-play” arrangement that flouts the ESA.

“Bringing dead black rhinos back to the U.S. as trophies does nothing to help save wild rhinos—if anything, it will encourage other people to try to hunt these endangered animals for sport,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “PETA is calling on the authorities to throw these hunters’ pay-to-play requests where they belong—in the garbage.”

There are only some 5,000 black rhinos still alive in Africa. The species is endangered largely because of poaching. Luzich and Knowlton paid $200,000 and $350,000, respectively, to win the Dallas Safari Club’s auctions, which have garnered criticism from across the country—including from television icon Bob Barker, who wrote to auction organizers, “True conservationists are those who pay money to keep rhinos alive—in the form of highly lucrative eco-tourism—as opposed to those who pay money for the cheap thrill of taking this magnificent animal’s life and putting his head on a wall.”

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind