Knowlton is a consultant for a hunting outfit called Hunting Consortium Ltd and has appeared on several TV hunting shows. Some commenters have suggested that, because Knowlton is not the typical mega-millionaire that makes bids like these, he could be bidding on behalf of another person who wishes to remain anonymous -- though that is entirely unconfirmed.
The Dallas Safari Club has been making headlines ever since it announced the controversial auction last year. The DSC claims it will use the money for conservation -- it'll kill this rhino to save others, the argument goes -- and says that the animal chosen to be the target is an older, non-breeding bull male that has been preventing other younger males in the herd from breeding with females.
But a loud chorus of critics disagree, saying that it sends the wrong message and sets the wrong precedent. Jeff Flocken, North American director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, told National Geographic, "taking a highly endangered species, and generating a furor to kill them in the name of conservation is not going to do anything to help them in the long run."
Protesters rallied outside the convention center last Saturday where the auction was held, including one Atlanta couple with their two children, both of whom participated in the protest as well.
"We heard what the Dallas Safari Club was doing and we thought it was just wrong that they were auctioning off to kill a black rhino and we really got upset that they were thinking this," 12-year-old Carter Ries told CBS News. His father, Jim Ries, added, "There's less than 5,000 black rhinos left on the planet, and if our kids ever want to see a rhino left in the wild, we can't be pulling the trigger on every one we say is too old to breed."
Scientists say that there are about 5,055 black rhinoceroses left in the world -- a decline of 96 percent over the past century.
Knowlton's Facebook page has a remarkable trove of photos, below, of him with animals he's hunted in the past. (Warning: Some may find these images disturbing.)