Corey Knowlton
Corey Knowlton posted this picture of his with a brown bear on his Facebook PageFacebook

A hunter who paid $350,000 (£212,000) for the chance to kill an endangered black rhino in Namibia has defended his actions and shrugged off death threats against himself and his family.

Corey Knowlton has been revealed as the man who won an auction by the Dallas Safari Club to hunt the endangered species .

After his name was revealed by a fellow hunter as the winner of a hunting permit, Knowlton said he received several death threats online and has alerted the FBI to stop his children from being "skinned alive and shot at".

On his Facebook page, in which he describes himself as a 'hunter/conservationist', people have posted threats to find and kill him.

"I have friends who live in the area and will have you in their sights also," another user wrote.

black rhino
There are around 4,000 black rhinos left in the wildReuters

Knowlton defended his participation in the auction and insisted that the hunt was meant to help the black rhino. Knowlton said the plan was to hunt an old, non-breeding male that was endangering the rest of the herd.

"We're just not going in there and saying 'hey we're on a rhino hunt and, here, have a beer we're going to find a rhino,'" he told ABC TV affiliate WFAA.

"No, it is a scientific process and we're going to make sure we get the ones that are causing the most problems.

"I'm a hunter," he added. "I want to experience a black rhino. I want to be intimately involved with a black rhino. If I go over there and shoot it or not shoot it, it's beyond the point."

Knowlton said that the money from the auction would go towards effort to support rhino conservation.

There are an estimated 4,000 black rhinos left in the wild, with nearly half of them in Namibia. The government offers three hunting permits a year, but Knowlton's is the first one to be offered outside Namibia.

On his Facebook page, he wrote: "I am considering all sides and concerns involved in this unique situation. Please don't rush to judgment with emotionally driven criticism towards individuals on either side of this issue.

"I deeply care about all of the inhabitants of this planet and I am looking forward to more educated discussion regarding the ongoing conservation effort for the Black Rhino."