A Kwazulu-Natal businessman has paid over R960 000 to hunt a white rhino in the Hluhluwe Game Reserve, iol.co.za reported on Sunday.
“The animal sold for R960 150. The hunt date has not yet been booked,” Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife spokesperson Waheeda Peters was quoted as saying.
The park administrators put out a tender which invited holders of hunting licenses to bid to kill the rhino.
Simon Bloch, an activist with the Outraged South African Citizens Against Poaching group said he could not understand the move when rhinos were already in danger.
“We are supposed to be fighting poaching. What kind of message are they sending out if we are shooting rhinos ourselves?”
He said his organisation had asked Ezemvelo to postpone the awarding of the tender as it was trying to raise money to pay for the rhino.
Ezemvelo CEO Bandile Mkhize said that the funds raised through the hunts were used for conservation.
‘The removal of a small number of individually identified rhino males actually enhances overall metapopulation growth rates and furthers genetic conservation,” she was reported as saying.
At the beginning of December, 405 rhinos had been killed in the country in 2011 — either through illegal poaching or legal hunts — compared to 333 killed in 2010, according to SA National Parks statistics.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, three of the five rhino species globally are critically endangered.
This year, the fund declared that rhinos in Vietnam had become extinct.
Rhino horn is highly sought after in Asia for medicinal purposes.
According to the Save the Rhino website, there were approximately one million rhinos at the turn of the 19th century,
Today, fewer than 24 500 survive in the wild, with the vast majority of these found in South Africa. – Sapa