Conservation NGO African Parks has announced that it will work to rewild more than 2,000 southern white rhinos over the next decade.
The organization has purchased Platinum Rhino, the planet’s biggest private captive breeding operation for rhinos. The property covers more than 19,000 acres in South Africa’s North West province. The 2,000 rhinos at Platinum Rhino represent as much as 15 percent of the remaining population of wild rhinos in the world.
Conservation group African Parks, which works with governments across the continent to manage 22 protected areas, purchased the struggling Platinum Rhino breeding operation after the billionaire owner put it up for sale. “Breeding rhinos is an expensive hobby,” said John Hume, the breeder who opened Platinum Rhino in 2009, as reported by Africanews. Hume said he had spent $150 million trying to save the majestic mammal, but had “run out of money.” Hume received no bids, so African Parks stepped in.
CEO of African Parks Peter Fearnhead, says: “African Parks had no intention of being the owner of a captive rhino breeding operation with 2,000 rhino. However, we fully recognise the moral imperative of finding a solution for these animals so that they can once again play their integral role in fully functioning ecosystems.”
The animals, and their offspring, which are estimated to number around 100 a year, will be released across Africa over the next decade. Its goal is to place them in secure and well-managed areas in order to supplement or establish strategic populations so that the species will no longer be in as great of risk.
“The conservation sector is delighted that African Parks can provide a credible solution for this important population, and a significant lifeline for this Near Threatened species,” said Dr. Mike Knight, chairman of the IUCN African Rhino Specialist Group. “This acquisition provides the unique opportunity to re-wild these 2,000 white rhino for the benefit of people and rhino conservation in Africa.”