After the black rhino hunt, a village celebrates meat delivery

Updated 8:50 PM EDT, Wed May 20, 2015
Dallas hunter Corey Knowlton paid $350,000 for a rhino-hunting permit, only one of three granted per year by the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism.
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Story highlights

Dallas hunter Corey Knowlton paid $350,000 for permit to kill black rhino

He will keep the head and body as trophy and gifted the meat

(CNN) —  

The morning after he shot and killed a black rhino, Corey Knowlton returned to where the hunt ended for the final act.

Knowlton and a small group of hunting guides spent hours in the brush of northern Namibia, field-dressing the nearly 3,000-pound rhino, cutting through the 2-inch thick hide, revealing massive pieces of meat.

The rhino meat was loaded into the back of a large trailer and delivered to a small village in a desolate, seemingly forgotten spot. There was a modest church and a small schoolhouse. Most homes didn’t have running water or electricity.

Knowlton’s hunt may have been controversial, but there’s nothing but gratitude here.

When Knowlton, from Dallas, and professional hunting guide Hentie van Heerden arrived, women and children rushed up to the truck. They raced behind it to a spot under a tree where the village elder announced Knowlton’s gift.

“It’s probably the most awesome part of what it means to be a hunter and a provider,” said Knowlton, who had bid $350,000 for a permit to hunt and kill an endangered black rhino Namibian conservation officials had earmarked as a threat to the rest of the herd.

“This is one of the biggest parts, because meat is very important to survival out here.”

The village is devastatingly poor. A short distance away, I met John Muli and his wife. He lives on a sand-covered patch of ground surrounded by a homemade fence with his wife and five children.

Inside the fence are five tiny dwellings. He and his wife share one hut with their two smallest children and his other children share the others.

Muli supports his family by selling sacks of camel thorn pods. These ear-shaped pods are ground into a powder and often used to feed animals.

It’s a hard living. Each bag of 15 kilos (about 33 pounds) sells for just over U.S.$1.

So when a truck full of meat arrives you can understand it brings a smile to their faces.

The women started singing beautiful traditional African songs. We were told the lyrics talk of praise and gratitude for the gifts that their visitors have brought to them.

Rhinos killed by poachers for their horns are often left to rot where they are killed, their meat perhaps picked at by scavengers. Knowlton intends to keep the horns on the rhino, shipping the hide and body back to the United States for taxidermy to become a hunter’s trophy.

He said being in the village is the moment he’ll remember most.

“This whole village is going to live off this rhino meat for a while, so it means the world to me to see this right now,” said Knowlton as he watched the villagers sing.