Thursday, December 29, 2011

For R750k, you can hunt white rhino

For R750k, you can hunt white rhino
December 29 2011 at 09:48am
By Sipho Khumalo

A rhino conservation campaigner is outraged that Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife has invited hunters to tender to hunt a white rhino bull at Mkuze Game Reserve, in northern KwaZulu-Natal, to manage numbers of the animal and to fund conservation efforts.

Ezemvelo invited the holders of hunting licences to bid to kill the rhino, with a minimum bid of R750 000 being set.

The tender was advertised on the internet for two days only.

The package consists of an identified white rhino, pictures of which were available on request, and two nights accommodation at a lodge. Bidding closed on December 23.

Defending the move, Ezemvelo chief executive Bandile Mkhize said that this was done every year as the reserve reached capacity and animals had to be removed

He said about 30 animals were auctioned annually, with at least two rhino hunts being offered at Mkuze, for this reason.

However, anti-poaching campaigner Simon Bloch said this justification was pathetic given that close to 500 rhinos had been poached this year alone.

“We should be doing everything in our power to ensure the survival of the species,” he said, adding that the rhino should be relocated to an area which had plenty of space instead of being killed.

Wildlife conservationist Tony Conway, chairman of the KZN Rhino Group, said on Wednesday:

“It may seem counter- intuitive, but the removal of a small number of individually identified males enhances the overall meta-population growth rates and furthers genetic conservation,” he said.- The Mercury


Both black and white rhinoceroses are actually gray. They are different not in color but in lip shape. The black rhino has a pointed upper lip, while its white relative has a squared lip. The difference in lip shape is related to the animals' diets. Black rhinos are browsers that get most of their sustenance from eating trees and bushes. They use their lips to pluck leaves and fruit from the branches. White rhinos graze on grasses, walking with their enormous heads and squared lips lowered to the ground.

White rhinos live on Africa's grassy plains, where they sometimes gather in groups of as many as a dozen individuals. Females reproduce only every two and a half to five years. Their single calf does not live on its own until it is about three years old.

Under the hot African sun, white rhinos they take cover by lying in the shade. Rhinos are also wallowers. They find a suitable water hole and roll in its mud, coating their skin with a natural bug repellent and sun block.

Rhinos have sharp hearing and a keen sense of smell. They may find one another by following the trail of scent each enormous animal leaves behind it on the landscape.

White rhinos have two horns, the foremost more prominent than the other. Rhino horns grow as much as three inches (eight centimeters) a year, and have been known to grow up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) long. Females use their horns to protect their young, while males use them to battle attackers.

The prominent horn for which rhinos are so well known has been their downfall. Many animals have been killed for this hard, hair-like growth, which is revered for medicinal use in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. The horn is also valued in North Africa and the Middle East as an ornamental dagger handle.

The white rhino once roamed much of sub-Saharan Africa, but today is on the verge of extinction due to poaching fueled by these commercial uses. Only about 11,000 white rhinos survive in the wild, and many organizations are working to protect this much loved animal.

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