Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

SA’s first online auction of rhino horn concluded on Friday amid outrage from conservationists, but no details of the sale were immediately available. "There is definitely no feedback today," a representative of the auctioneers said, adding that a statement would be issued on Monday.

The Private Rhino Owners Association, which supported the auction, said it expected to hear from the auction’s organiser possibly at the weekend. "They have to do an analysis of the various bids and get average prices," the association’s chairman Pelham Jones said.

The auctioneers did not set an opening price for bids, but bidders paid R100,000 ($7,626) to register and only registered bidders had access to the bidding process.

John Hume, the owner of the world’s largest rhino farm, organised the controversial three-day sell-off, which ended shortly after 12pm GMT.

The auction was delayed for two days after a legal challenge and protests from conservation groups that argued the sale would fuel poaching and undermine a 40-year global ban on the rhino trade. Hume, who has 1,500 rhinos on his farm in the North West and has amassed six tonnes of rhino horn, which he harvests from live animals, later secured a permit for the auction.

He harvests the horns by tranquilising the animals and cutting them off — a technique he says is humane and wards off poachers. Hume put on the sale to dispose of 264 pieces of horns weighing a total of 500kg. He is planning an offline auction next month.

The government has not publicly commented on the auction, which came after the Constitutional Court lifted an eight-year moratorium on the domestic trade of rhino horn in April.

SA is home to about 20,000 rhinos, about 80% of the worldwide population, but the country has suffered record slaughter by poachers in recent years.

Rhino horn is highly prized in Asia, where they were previously estimated to fetch up to $60,000/kg on the black market, but expert researchers say the going black market rate for the horn in Vietnam is about $24,000/kg.


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