Conservation Group Is Freeing 2K Rhinos

African Parks has acquired South African farm that housed private breeding operation
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 5, 2023 7:59 PM CDT
Conservation Group Is Freeing 2K Rhinos
Southern white rhino numbers have rebounded from a low of around 40 in the 1930s, but population are still under pressure from poachers.   (Getty Images/EcoPic)

When a South African farm home to a herd of around 2,000 white rhinos went up for auction earlier this year, there were fears the animals could end up with a buyer that didn't have their best interests at heart. Instead, there were no bids at all, but the rhinos appear to have a bright future under a private deal between conservation nonprofit African Parks and the farm's owner, hotel tycoon John Hume, National Geographic reports. African Parks says it plans to release the rhinos into the wild in a "rewilding" effort over the next 10 years, reports the BBC. The group manages park and protected areas in a dozen African countries.

The farm, known as Platinum Rhino, sits on 33 square miles of land in South Africa's North West province, though its exact location is kept secret to avoid attracting the poachers that pose a severe threat to rhinos across Africa. The farm's rhinos, which were part of the world's largest captive rhino breeding program, make up around 10% of the world's surviving population of southern white rhinos. Hume founded the farm with a plan to protect rhinos from poachers by selling horns removed from live rhinos, but the trade was never legalized. In auction documents, Hume estimated protecting the rhinos cost around $425,000 a month, with security operations including helicopter patrols.

African Parks says it will be keeping all of the farm's staff, including dozens of rangers, until the animals are rehomed. The group says it is looking at feasibility studies to determine locations for the animals that have adequate protection from poachers, along with sufficient food and water. Project leader Donovan Jooste says whether groups of rhinos can be moved together will be determined on a case-by-case basis, but mothers and calves will not be separated. (More rhinoceros stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.