DALLAS -- Saturday, the Dallas Safari Club will auction off a permit from the African country of Namibia for the right to kill an endangered black rhino.

The auction has drawn a fair amount of critics from across the United States.

'It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,' said Ben Carter, executive directer of the Dallas Safari Club. 'Because the black rhino is listed as endangered, you cannot hunt them and you cannot import them legally.'

Thursday marked the first of the four-day annual convention for the Dallas Safari Club. This year, organizers anticipate as many as 45,000 visitors, the largest turn out ever.

Officials estimate that during Saturday's auction, the hunting permit could go for as much as $1 million. It's money they say will all be donated to black rhino conservation.

'The scientists and biologists tell us, this is the best way to help increase the herd of black rhino population, and it is actually supported by a number of the highest-level conservation groups in the world,' Carter said.

He said he and members of the Dallas Safari Club staff have received death threats from endangered animal advocates because of the auction.

The rhino killed will be an aggressive adult who is past the age of reproduction, according to Carter. Still, the auction is a tough sell to many endangered species advices.

'It is not truly hunting; it is a form of genocide of a member of an endangered species,' said Jen Samuel, an endangered animal advocate in Delaware.

Samuel has helped organize a peaceful protest scheduled for Saturday. She said protesters are coming from all over the United States.

'To kill one, scientifically, is not conservation. To conserve a black rhino, let's make sure they have a habitat -- a protected habitat that protects them from poachers and needless slaughter,' she said.

Those behind the hunt say they are working closely with the Namibian government, and will have a biologist with the hunters to make sure the right rhino is killed.


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