NEWS AND COMMENT-SOUTH AFRICA: John Hume is a controversial figure. He breeds rhinoceroses on his farm. The Times reports that he has 2,000 on his 8400-ha farm in north-west South Africa. He de-horns his rhino and keeps the horns which he wants to sell because he is lobbying for a ban on the international trade to be lifted. He held an auction in South Africa in 2017. His business is called Platinum Rhino.
It seems to me that he has concocted a clever scheme to make a lot of money out of rhino horn by farming rhinos and he’s done this under the cover of conservation. It is quite amazing how people consistently exploit animals on conservation grounds. We see the same with shooters. They say that sport hunting benefits conservation and therefore they should not be criticised. It has been established that the argument is false.
John Hume apparently has done a deal to “annually re-wild approximately 100 white rhinoceroses to their natural habitat in South Africa”. He is ready to implement the deal.
He owns as much as 13% of the global white rhino population. An extraordinary statistic. South Africa is home to about 80% of the world’s rhino population. There was a surge in rhino poaching which began about 10 years ago after which there was a decline and now once again poaching has increased to feed the insatiable traditional Chinese medicine market in China and Vietnam. A single horn can sell for £55,000 per kilo which is more than heroin.
There is no scientific evidence which supports the medicinal benefits of rhino horn. It appears to be entirely based upon ancient superstition which makes the decimation of the rhino population doubly distressing. Is there no way that the people of Vietnam and China can’t be educated to understand that what they are doing is highly immoral and serves no medical purpose for them?
The truth of the matter is that trading in rhino horns is a highly profitable business and business always trumps conservation because business people are more committed than conservationists and there are far more of them.
Private breeders own about half of South Africa’s rhinos. This means that poachers are targeting rhino farms because their security is often insecure! John Hume spends about 5 million Rand (£250,000) monthly employing armed security to maintain his 60-mile electric fence. The cost also covers supplementary feeding.
Hume claims that he might go bankrupt unless he can sell his horns. He must have a large stock by now. He said last year: “I am fearful because I cannot go on doing what I’m doing forever.”
A problem with so many rhinos being on farms is that they become domesticated. Conservationists are worried that the rhino could become the first large African mammal to be domesticated and unable to return to the wild.
The southern white rhino is a subspecies of white rhino and endangered, unsurprisingly (per IUCN Red List). The experts believe that there are about 20,000 remaining (World Wildlife Fund). The Red List actually states that there are 10,800 mature individual southern white rhinos in the world and that the population is decreasing. They state that they are classified as Near Threatened. This is technically speaking not endangered. The “Endangered” classification is a couple of steps nearer extinction than Near Threatened. No doubt this classification encourages corrupt officials to allow poaching to take place which allows them to get their kickbacks.
Below are some more pages on rhinos.