A black rhino named Phila has survived two poaching attempts in which she was shot a total of nine times, stands in a boma whilst being guarded round the clock by two police reservists. File photo: Jennifer Bruce

Jozini - Prominent KwaZulu-Natal game rancher and rhino-breeder Karel Landman is thinking of selling all his rhino because of the national poaching crisis, rising security costs and the belief that rhino-farming is no longer financially attractive.

In a letter to fellow rhino owners, Landman said he had planned to breed a herd of more than 150 white rhino at his 7 000-hectare Pongola Game Reserve, near Jozini Dam.

Instead, he had sold an undisclosed number of rhino and moved the remaining animals (less than 20) onto a smaller 1 000ha section for security reasons.

“Presently I am considering selling all my rhino, something I did not even contemplate as an option before.

“The cost of security, as well as the risk of losing millions overnight due to illegal hunting, result in rhino farming not being an attractive option anymore.

“I am surprised to learn of how many people in our area alone have sold all their rhino.”

Landman says in his letter to the RhinoDotCom campaign that keeping rhino was no longer financially viable.

RhinoDotCom campaigns for the legalisation of rhino horn as a solution to the current rhino poaching onslaught, which has led to the poaching of almost 600 rhino this year alone.

It is lobbying the government to set up a central selling organisation which would hold regular rhino horn auctions, with the proceeds split between the government and private rhino owners, according to the ratio of how much each sector owned.

“We keep rhino because we are conservation-minded people,” said Landman, “but at the same time the reality is we need to make money out of such an investment to survive in the business of conservation.

“The present permit requirements, red tape and lengthy time frames make it extremely difficult to hunt or to move rhino, influencing price and demand. I could not sell one rhino hunt this season, although I have too many males which need to be removed from the reserve.”

Confidence in the future of private rhino ownership had become problematic, despite the lobbying and leadership role of other private rhino owners, such as Pelham Jones and John Hume.

Hume is the single-largest private rhino owner in the world and is believed to have more than 800 rhino, mainly at his Mauricedale Game Ranch in the Mpumalanga Lowveld.

“Will common sense prevail to allow controlled trade in rhino horn, which is the only long-term solution to the survival of our rhino?” Landman observed.

“Maybe the answer is not to get out, but to fight for our right to decide for ourselves on how to manage the rhino we own.” - The Mercury