Mauricedale Nature Estate, 15 kilometres south of the world famous Kruger National Park in South Africa, will go under the hammer on September 25, in a final and desperate attempt to save 1,732 white rhinos and secure the future of this near-endangered species for generations to come.
The unabated, unbridled poaching of white rhino to sell their horns on the black market to feed the demand for this product in mostly far eastern countries, has put enormous pressure on the once-thriving southern white rhino population in Southern Africa.
Rhinos at risk
Both private rhino owners and national parks and reserves have fallen victim to ruthless poachers and syndicates that run a lucrative illegal trafficking operation between South Africa and countries where the demand for rhino horn remains very high.
John Hume is trying to raise funds to save his Rhino Project on Buffalo Dream Ranch on the estate, with the estimated value of the Mauricedale property between R490 and R523 million in 2008.
“The estate is an investor’s dream with established accommodation and quality infrastructure located in one of the most popular tourist destinations in South Africa, covering a highly varied topography including mountains, rivers, plains and low-veld canopy,” said Hume in a press statement.
“The property has first-world telecommunication infrastructure to meet the demands of the approved zoning for future residential development,” Hume explained.
In addition to its vast potential for expansion as a national and international tourism destination, the buyer of Mauricedale Nature Estate will play a key role in securing the future of the iconic white rhino. Hume runs a rhino breeding and rhino horn stockpiling project on a separate property in the North West province.
The private sector’s involvement and commitment to support rhino breeding programmes can go a long way to rewild or re-introduce rhinos in areas where rhino numbers have declined. It also assists in introducing new bloodlines in existing population groups to ensure healthy rhino off-spring from a diverse gene pool the statement added.
*At 769 recorded poaching incidents in South Africa in 2018, poaching numbers are still high and rhino at risk. However, what does this decline mean for rhinos’ future?
In February 2019 the South African Department of Environmental Affairs, released the 2018 poaching numbers. Thankfully, the numbers show a decrease of 259 compared to the previous year (1,028 rhino were poached in 2017).
But this positive sign does not mean they are now thriving, rhinos are at risk. It shows at least two rhinos were killed each day in 2018. Furthermore, the cumulative impact of the poaching crisis is taking its toll, as well as the prolonged drought affecting food and water resources.
Although the recent statistics are encouraging, 2019 has continued to bring news of rhino poaching incidents in South Africa: if the 2018 trend were to continue for 2019, then 88 rhinos could have already been poached this year. In August 2019, the Department of Environmental Affairs announced that 318 rhinos had been poached in the first six months of the year.
The decline in the number of poached rhinos may demonstrate that the anti-poaching work taking place is having an effect, or it may also demonstrate that with significantly fewer rhinos surviving in the wild, it is getting harder for poachers to locate their prey. More action is needed to stop the illegal trade and ensure rhinos have a positive future. This means supporting anti-poaching work, but also good overall management of rhino populations by ensuring high-quality biological management.
*Poaching stats sourced from Save The Rhino.
Additional reporting from ANA – African News Agency edited by Lindiz van Zilla