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John Hume tried to save South Africa’s white rhinos before they were poached. Now, he says, he can no longer maintain his crusade.
On Wednesday, Hume, estimated to own between 13% and 15% of the world’s white rhinos, launched a bid to sell the 2,000-strong herd in an online sale starting at $10 million.
In an effort to legalize the trade in rhinoceros horn, banned in most countries, Hume established the Platinum Rhino Project, a 21,000-acre site 100 miles southwest of Johannesburg. His plan was to create a breeding farm where horns could be safely harvested from live rhinos and sold on the open market. (Rhinoceros horns are made of keratin – the substance in human fingernails – and regrow at a rate of approx 7 cm per year.)
He and other private breeders argue that a legal rhino horn trade would drive down black market prices. World Animal Trust Estimates range from $15,000 to $30,000 per pound. Hume said that by humanely removing the massive pachyderms and ensuring their survival, the Platinum Rhino Project would generate enough revenue to cover the huge costs associated with managing and protecting the species.
Hume successfully sued the South African government in 2017 to reverse a decades-old ban on the domestic sale of rhino horn, even though the overall effort was less profitable than he had hoped.
of the farm Website Hotelier Hume says he has invested more than $150 million of his own money into the Platinum Rhino project since it opened in 2009. In 2017, National Geographic He spends $170,000 a month on security, feed and veterinary services.
Now, he says, “the ideal buyer is an individual or foundation interested in protecting rhinos and has the means to continue a breeding program.”
An auction page on the site adds, “With 200 rhinos born annually, this project has the power to make a significant difference and improve the dwindling rhino population on the African continent.”
“We have a lot of rewilding power here,” said Michael Otto, the project’s wildlife veterinarian.
He believes farmed rhinos “could repopulate all of Africa that we lose to poaching by the hundreds every year.”
The WWF There are an estimated 15,942 white rhinos worldwide. The species is classified as “Near Threatened”.
Demand for rhino horn comes mostly from East Asian countries – primarily China and Vietnam – where it is traditionally used for medicinal purposes and carved into statues. As stated therein World Animal Trust, the poaching crisis began in 2008 and peaked between 2013 and 2017, with more than 1,000 slaughtered each year. Even now, the organization estimates that one rhino is killed every 12 hours.