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SA to sell rhino to private buyers

Jan 13 2015 16:00
Paul Burkhardt

Johannesburg - South Africa National Parks (SANParks) has issued a tender to sell as many as 200 rhino to private buyers so that they can be moved to areas where they are safer from poachers who last year killed a record number of the animals.

“A tender process has been put out,” Gerry Swan, a SANParks board member and chairperson of its conservation and tourism committee, said in a telephone interview today. The possible destinations of the rhinos are being evaluated and the “movement of rhino will start in March,” he said.

In a bid to protect the species, the government has deployed the military to Kruger National Park, have stepped up prosecutions of poachers and has moved 50 rhino to safer areas within Kruger and other national parks.

Kruger borders Mozambique, providing an opportunity for many poachers to enter the park from that country.

READ: Rhino sale: Make your bid now

The rhino are hunted with automatic rifles, often by the light of the full moon, their horns sawn off and sold to buyers in China and Vietnam where powdered horn is believed to cure cancer among other ailments.

An annual record of 1 020 rhino, or about 5% of the total population, had been killed in 2014 by November 20, the Department of Environmental Affairs said in a statement. Final figures for 2014 are yet to be released.

A company associated with billionaire Christoffel Wiese was among buyers refunded R14m in deposits last year after a contract to buy the animals from SANParks was found to be unauthorised.

Wiese is worth over R60bn ($6.1bn) and is South Africa’s fourth- richest man, according to Bloomberg Billionaires. He owns a reserve in the Northern Cape. 

South Africa is home to both white and black rhinos, with the bigger white variety making up most of the population.

sanparks  |  rhino poaching
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