No one wanted to buy 2,000 rhinos up for auction. What happened next is good news


In a heartwarming twist of fate, over 2,000 unwanted white rhinoceroses are now residing in the world’s largest rhinoceros farm in South Africa. This arrangement is the result of a partnership between John Hume and an NGO known as “African Parks.”

African Parks currently works with 12 governments to run 22 protected wildlife areas across Africa
Wild white rhinos are seen at an undisclosed location in the North-West Province of South Africa, on April 2, 2023. African Parks, which manages 22 protected areas across the continent, says it plans to return 2,000 southern white rhino to the wild over the next 10 years.

Hume’s Platinum Rhino Conservation Project initially aimed to harvest rhino horns for sale in international markets to fund its operations. However, the sale of rhino horns was never legalized, so Hume seized the opportunity to auction the animals, hoping that wealthy individuals could help in returning them to the wild, their rightful habitat. This led to the sale of his entire 21,000-acre farm in South Africa for an initial price of $10 million USD.

But rather than selling the farm to an individual, both the Platinum Rhino Conservation Project and African Parks jointly acquired the farm, along with thousands of rhinoceroses. The park also houses thousands of other animals, including giraffes, hippos, sheep, and more. Taylor Tench, a senior policy analyst at the Environmental Investigation Agency, hailed this deal as one of the most positive developments in recent times. However, he also acknowledged that the challenge of reintroducing these animals into the wild is very uncertain.

African Parks, responsible for managing 22 special conservation areas, has taken charge of the park and committed to safeguarding the rhinos until they can be returned to their natural habitats. The organization has also implemented helicopter patrols to monitor the rhino population and their well-being, with the goal of protecting them from potential poachers.

In an interview with National Geographic, Hume revealed that he spends over $425,000 annually to protect these animals from poachers. This investment has proven effective, as the rhinos have remained untouched by poachers since March 2017, and African Parks asserts the strength of their security measures and perimeter fencing.

While the exact destinations for these animals have not yet been decided, African Parks is confident that within a decade, they will find new safe homes. The organization has access to various regions of land that could serve as suitable habitats.

Despite facing its own challenges, African Parks appears to be on the right track, having implemented robust security systems to combat illegal poaching. Previously, there were over 10,000 rhinoceroses in the region, but now the population has dwindled to fewer than 4,000.

Hume and his partners have not disclosed the financial details of the park’s purchase and sale, but they did mention to National Geographic that the price was only a fraction of the initial valuation. Hume’s daughter-in-law cited a non-disclosure agreement as the reason for withholding further details.

Hume’s rhinos represent a significant portion of Africa’s total rhino population, which exceeds 22,000. As acclimating rhinos to the “dangerous world out there” poses challenges such as food scarcity, droughts, and diseases, the African Parks organization has enlisted an advisory board to help determine the rhinos’ ultimate destinations.

John Scanlon, a former employee of African Parks, views this as a victory for thousands of animals, anticipating improved treatment and protection for them. He commended African Pa vc. vbv nbv rks for its courage and capacity to undertake such a monumental and risky endeavor, emphasizing the potential for improved relocation and protection of animals on well-managed land, away from poachers.

Source: National Geographic

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