The sale of a limited number of white rhino from the Kruger National Park (KNP) has begun as part of the South African National Parks implementation of a comprehensive rhino management strategy.
The strategy by SANParks is in line with a rhino management strategy adopted by Cabinet in August. It is aimed at curbing poaching in the country’s national parks.
SANParks is currently finalising provisions for the sale of rhino and will call for offers to purchase in a series of newspaper advertisements soon.
The SANParks Board has recently cancelled a planned sale because proper governance procedures were not followed. However, issues around this have been ironed out and the sale will be fully compliant with supply chain processes and SANParks’ conservation mandate.
“Planning is already well underway for the first auction of rhinos, which will take place later this year,” said SANParks chairman Kuseni Dlamini.
He said SANParks will strictly regulate prospective purchasers.
Prospective purchasers will be required to sign agreements to ensure relocated animals contribute to the conservation of the species and the growth of the rhino population as a whole.
“These agreements will be linked to management plans with clear objectives and targets for the growth of populations that are being introduced in new range areas,” Dlamini said.
With all sales, a due diligence process will be followed in clouding background checks on prospective buyers. Anyone wanting to purchase more than 20 rhino has to comply with habitat and ecological suitability and security requirements.
The due diligence process includes a risk assessment to ensure the safety of the animals, and buyers will be required to present a security plan that ensures the animals’ safety as well as a conservation plan.
The money raised from the sale will be ploughed back into conservation. This includes the purchase of additional conservation land to expand the range for rhinos, the restoration of ecosystems and the employment of additional rangers.
“We are now ready to move and to begin the implementation of our entire rhino management strategy. Relocation is the core of our approach – not only to combat poaching, but to ensure the continued growth of the rhino population,” said Dlamini.
Dlamini said the aim is to stimulate growth in large protected areas.
“In this way, we will be able to offset the effects of poaching in the short- to medium-term, while expanding rhino range and improving the overall population size.”
The multi-faceted strategy includes the relocation of some rhino from the KNP to create rhino strongholds in other parts of the country.
“We will begin by relocating rhinos from specific high-risk parts of the park and from areas where there is a high population density, as this will also increase birth rates among the rhinos that remain in the park,” said Dlamini.
The relocation of rhino and other species from the Kruger National Park has always been part of the SANParks Management Plan, and the relocation of 1 450 rhino from the park between 1997 and 2013 has contributed to the growth of the South African rhino population. – SAnews.gov.za