SANParks sells rhinos to foil poachers

2 April 2015

SANParks is to sell 286 white rhino to private buyers as part of its efforts to save the animals from poaching, Kuseni Dlamini, the organisation’s outgoing chairperson, said in Pretoria on Wednesday.

“A tender was issued for the sale of white rhino to private land owners who fulfil a number of requirements, including habit and security,” Dlamini said.

Poachers killed 1 217 rhinos in South Africa in 2014, including more than 800 in Kruger National Park, up from a total of 1 004 in 2013. The country has a population of about 20 000 rhinos.

Suitable and secure

Dlamini said the tender process was in the adjudication phase, with a team including auditors from KPMG, National Treasury and scientists assessing properties to ensure they would provide a suitable and secure habitat.

The sale forms part of a translocation programme begun in October 2014 to move some rhino out of poaching hotspots in the Kruger National Park.

About R32-million of land had also been purchased as part of the creation of “rhino strongholds” where rhinos would be kept to allow the population to grow, SANParks said.

Dr Howard Hendricks, SANParks acting managing executive for conservation, said the rhino would not be “dumped” on to the properties, and that the organisation would maintain relationships with the owners.

Interventions

“While we cannot claim to have won the war against rhino poaching during our term, we have gone a long way towards developing and putting in place the interventions needed to contain this threat to our natural heritage,” Dlamini said.

Steps included a helicopter donated by the Howard G Buffett Foundation and use of unmanned aerial vehicles or drones in the Kruger National Park.

Ending poaching needed the combined effort of business, NGOs, neighbouring countries and the “whole global community”, he said.

Hendricks said rhinos were also being killed by lightning, which had become more prevalent in the past three years.

In Bloemhof in Free State, two rhino were killed by lightning last year. Other areas where this had happened were the Northern Cape and the Waterberg region in Limpopo.

news24.com and SAinfo reporter