AFRICA: Platinum Rhino Farm bought out in extremis, but will be closed down

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AFRICA: Platinum Rhino Farm bought out in extremis, but will be closed © African Parks

Months after it was put up for auction, Platinum Rhino was finally bought out at the last minute by the conservation organisation African Parks. But the fate of the world's largest white rhino farm is sealed, as it will be gradually closed over the next 10 years.

Platinum Rhino has finally found a buyer. The buyer is African Parks, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) well known in the field of biodiversity conservation in Africa. The organisation is saving Platinum Rhino, the world’s largest white rhino farm, located in the North West Province of South Africa, in extremis. The private farm was put up for auction on 23 April 2023, “but received no bids“, says African Parks.

“After a thorough investigation and with the support of the South African government, and after securing emergency funding to make the transaction possible, African Parks has agreed to purchase the farm and all 2,000 rhinos,” says the organisation based in Gauteng, South Africa. Covering an area of 7,800 hectares, the farm is home to 15% of the world’s remaining white rhino population.

Towards the closure of the farm

However, the farm will be closed over the next 10 years. African Parks has a clear objective: to re-tame these rhinos over the next ten years in well-managed and safe areas, by establishing or supplementing strategic populations, thereby reducing the risks to the future of the species”, says the organisation headed by Peter Fearnhead. The farm will therefore be gradually closed down, and the project will come to an end once all the rhinos have been released into the wild.

Read also- DRC: rhinos return to Garamba Park after a 17-year absence

The rewilding of these animals will help to save the white rhino. This pachyderm is on the brink of extinction, with 13,000 individuals recorded worldwide. The white rhino population fell to between 30 and 40 individuals in the 1930s before rising to 20,000 in 2012. These animals are poached for their tusks, which fetch a premium on the black market in Asia.

A costly passion

The Platinum Rhino takeover is “one of the most exciting and strategic conservation opportunities in the world. We will be working with many governments, funding partners and conservation organisations who are committed to making this vision of rewilding a reality,” explains Peter Fearnhead, Chief Executive of African Parks.

The farm was launched in 2009 by former businessman John Hume, now 81, who was hoping for a buyer instead. But the farm, in which he claims to have invested 150 million dollars, will be closed for good. African Parks declined to say how much it had paid for Platinum Rhino. However, the organisation has received support from the South African government and conservation bodies.

Jean Marie Takouleu

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