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It is feared that one of SANParks’ rhino management efforts might have the opposite outcome as that of conservation of the species, since the animals are allegedly being sold to hunters. This weekend, it was reported by national media that 120 rhino had been sold at a massive discount of R220 000 per head during an auction in May, which was almost half of the R400 000 buyers paid per animal last year.

Game rangers apply blinders to a sedated rhino. © Alaister Russell

According to News24, one of the buyers was said to have been Alexander Steyn, owner of Steyn Safaris in the Northern Cape.

Steyn’s name was mentioned during the trial of rhino farmer and owner, Dawie Groenewald, in which he was accused of being a middleman between Groenewald and Vietnamese guests.

Groenewald, a rhino farmer from the Musina area in Limpopo, is currently facing 1,736 charges ranging from money laundering to illegal hunting to trade in rhino horn.

Steyn has also been identified as the organiser of hunting trips of rhino for the Vietnamese in the book about rhino poaching, written by Julian Rademeyer – Killing for Profit.

Managing executive of the Kruger National Park (KNP), Paul Daphne, would not confirm if Steyn was indeed one of the buyers. “I cannot confirm who the buyers are as it will compromise the safety of the animals. I also cannot confirm that no rhino have been sold to Steyn,” he said.

Both Alexander and his brother, Marius Steyn, slammed their phones down when Lowvelder approached them for comment.

Rhino translocation from Kruger to private reserves was instituted in October 2013 to establish breeding colonies in other areas. Daphne added: “We are only moving rhino to Africa range states and to private rhino farmers. We had representation from the Department of Treasury on the tender committee, as well as various other economic experts that investigated the destination of the planned relocation and the price per head. The idea is definitely not to sell them to hunters per se.”

Daphne also added: “Although the tendering process has been concluded and the sale approved, no rhino has been relocated as yet. It was decided last year that more than 200 rhino will be relocated from KNP to other venues.”

Earlier this month, the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA) was a hive of activity during the second special delivery of rhino to Botswana.

The deal was signed between a private farmer near Bela Bela, in Limpopo, and Wilderness Safaris in the north of Botswana for the sale of 18 rhino. The first delivery took place on May 23 when five black rhino – two calves, two adult females and one male – were flown out of KMIA.

This time, four adult black rhino were transported. The third delivery will include four white rhino and the last one another five black rhino later in June.

SANParks decided to sell and move rhinos out of the Kruger National Park for their own safety as part of a comprehensive rhino-management strategy.

Read more about Alexander Steyn and his history with SANParks and the sale of Kruger’s rhinos here:

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