Rhino conservation: the horns of a dilemma
Half of SA’s rhinos are now privately owned, which would seem to guarantee greater herd safety. But the daunting challenges private ranchers face could reverse conservation gains over the longer term
In a first for megafauna, half of SA’s white rhino population is now privately owned. And, given the precarious outlook for the animals elsewhere, it is conceivable that most rhinos worldwide will soon be in private hands. However, some private owners say they may not be able to sustain the costs of maintaining their herds if the global ban on the horn trade remains in place. The state of affairs has been reached after more than a decade of relentless poaching on one hand, and intense breeding efforts by private ranchers on the other. A recent survey conducted for the Private Rhino Owners Association (PROA) found that at the end of 2017, almost 7,000 white rhinos, 46% of an estimated 15,200 national herd in SA, were in private hands. SA’s privately owned white rhino population, plus a few hundred black rhinos on private land, is more than double the population of the three Asian species. Meanwhile, populations in government parks have been in decline. In 2010, the number of white rh...
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