Rhino Auctions to Be Held in S. Africa as Poachers Plague Park

South African National Parks plans to auction rhinos this year as part of a progam to create protected populations of the endangered animals away from the Kruger National Park, an area the size of Israel where they are being poached.

The sale plans come after an earlier attempt was canceled, with a company associated with billionaire Christo Wiese among those that were refunded 14 million rand ($1.2 million) in deposits, “because proper governance procedures were not followed.”

“We have ironed these issues out,” Kuseni Dlamini, chairman of South African National Parks, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. “Planning is already under way for the first auction of rhinos.”

At least 769 rhinos have been poached this year in South Africa, with two-thirds of those being killed in the Kruger park, compared with a record 1,004 of the animals slaughtered in all of last year. Privately owned game reserves cover about 16 percent of land in the country.

Rhino horns are prized in China and Vietnam where they are ground up into powder and thought to cure diseases such as cancer. The horn is more valuable by weight than gold and most of the world’s rhino population lives in South Africa.

The auctions will be advertised in national newspapers and will be sold on condition they are bred to boost total population numbers, Dlamini said. Anyone purchasing more than 20 rhinos will have to submit to a security and habitat assessment, he said.

“These agreements will be linked to new management plans with clear objectives and targets for the growth of populations that are being introduced in new range areas,” National Parks said.

Money raised will be spent on conservation.

At the same time, National Parks will move rhinos to safer areas within Kruger and to other national parks.

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