critically endangered

South Africa: To save the rhinos, a millionaire seeks a millionaire 

By Damien Glez

Posted on April 27, 2023 09:00

 © Image by Damien Glez
Image by Damien Glez

On 26 April, the world’s largest rhino owner auctioned off his South African farm to protect the species.

Of the five existing rhino species, two are found on the African continent, notably in South Africa, which is home to nearly 80% of the world’s largest land mammals after elephants.

Classified as “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the black rhino is numbered at just over 5,000, while the white rhino – “near threatened”, according to the IUCN – population is just over 20,000.

The rhino’s horns are used throughout Asia in traditional medicine, notably in a quest for aphrodisiac effects, even as South Africa continues to fight poaching, which last year led to the deaths of nearly 450 rhinos.

The price per kg of horn is close to that of gold, at around $60,000. The export of this keratin appendage is illegal, but drastic anti-poaching measures have not succeeded in eradicating the practice.

$150m over 30 years

With 2,000 rhinos on 8,000 hectares of land less than 200km southwest of Johannesburg, South African millionaire John Hume is the world’s largest owner of this mammal.