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Texas club to auction elephant hunt

A Texas hunting club is to once again auction off a chance to kill a large animal whose numbers are dwindling.

The Dallas Safari Club faced international criticism last year for auctioning a permit to shoot an endangered black rhino.

This year's auction prize is a 12-day hunt in Cameroon for African elephants.

The World Wildlife Fund, the world's leading conservation group, regards the animal as "vulnerable", a step below "endangered" and defined as "facing a high risk of extinction in the wild".

Animal welfare activists plan to picket the Dallas hotel where the auction is to take place.

But the club's executive director, Ben Carter, said elephants "are overpopulated in certain areas of Africa".

The rhino hunt has been postponed until the winner receives permission to import the carcass from Namibia.

Jeff Flocken, the North American regional director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, called the club's position "disingenuous".

"It's disingenuous to say it's being done for conservation," he said. "Elephants and rhinos are in the middle of intense poaching."

The club's auction catalogue, which values the lot at 20,000 US dollars (£13,200), notes that although the top bid would win "the right to hunt a mature bull elephant", such quarries "are not importable to the US".

The African elephants' range in equatorial Africa has been steadily dwindling, from 3 million square miles (7.8 million sq km) in 1979 to just over 1 million square miles (2.6 million sq km) in 2007, the WWF has reported.

Expanded logging and agriculture, along with mining, have eaten into that habitat. Elephants also are frequently the targets of illegal hunting for their prized ivory tusks.

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