South Africa has long grappled with rampant poaching, primarily driven by demand for rhino horns in traditional Asian medicine.
In a significant move for rhino conservation, the renowned non-governmental organization African Parks has assumed ownership of the world’s largest rhino farm, known as the “Platinum Rhino” site, situated in South Africa. This vast property spans 7,800 hectares and is currently home to approximately 2,000 rhinoceroses.
The acquisition is of paramount importance in safeguarding the dwindling global rhino population. South Africa, which hosts nearly 80 percent of the world’s rhinos, has long grappled with rampant poaching, primarily driven by demand for rhino horns in traditional Asian medicine.
Last year alone, 448 of these magnificent creatures fell victim to poaching across the country, reflecting only a slight decrease from the previous year, despite intensified protection efforts in national parks like Kruger.
The rhino farm was previously owned by 81-year-old South African conservationist John Hume, who placed it up for auction earlier this year. Hume had expressed a desire to find a billionaire buyer who could carry forward his philanthropic mission. Over the years, he invested approximately $150 million in preserving the world’s second-largest land mammal. The farm’s substantial expenditures were primarily dedicated to security and surveillance to deter poachers.
However, when no suitable offers were received, African Parks stepped in as the new owner. The NGO’s primary aim is to shield the rhinos from heightened poaching threats. The “Platinum Rhino” site currently serves as a habitat for around 15 percent of the world’s remaining wild population of southern white rhinos.
African Parks, renowned for its management of 22 protected areas across the African continent, has ambitious plans to reintroduce 2,000 southern white rhinos to their natural habitat over the next decade. This species, which teetered on the brink of extinction in the late 19th century, has made a remarkable recovery thanks to sustained protection and breeding efforts.
This acquisition not only signifies a significant milestone in rhino conservation but also underscores the ongoing challenges faced in safeguarding these magnificent creatures from the persistent threat of poaching in South Africa. The involvement of African Parks brings renewed hope for the future of rhinos, as their expertise and dedication continue to play a crucial role in preserving these iconic animals for generations to come.