Outrage over bid to hunt white rhino

An anti-rhino poaching activist has challenged the “mystery businessman” who forked out close to R1 million to hunt and kill a white rhino in KwaZulu-Natal to identify himself, exchange his high-powered rifle for a camera, take the shot and walk away.

Simon Bloch, of Outraged South African Citizens Against Poaching, was reacting to an announcement by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife that a KZN businessman had paid R960 000 for the right to hunt a white rhino at Mkuze game reserve.

Photo: Steve Lawrence

The offer came after Ezemvelo had asked people to bid online to kill the animal, which was deemed surplus to requirements.

Ezemvelo had defended the move, saying this was done annually as the reserve reached capacity and animals had to be removed.

Offering the animals to be hunted also raised money for conservation efforts, said chief executive Bandile Mkhize.

However, the offer triggered angry reaction from those fighting to save rhinos in the wake of an increase in poaching of the animals.

Bloch said yesterday that confirmation from Ezemvelo that a mystery KZN businessman had been awarded the rhino hunt was a sad moment for rhinos and a sad indictment on the state of the Ezemvelo board.

“They are not willing to grant transparency to their process even though they are public servants on the payroll of taxpayers’ money. An amount of R960 000 is a lot of money to pay for a rhino when you can pick them up at auctions for R300 000.”

Bloch said many people had been outraged by “the savage onslaught” of poaching of the endangered animals in the country.

“Now to see this publicly entrusted body doing this sends the wrong kind of message to the world.

Ezemvelo spokeswoman Waheeda Peters would not name the businessman with the winning bid or say when the hunt would take place.