Rhi­nos sold to canned hunter

Fu­ri­ous Kruger Park of­fi­cials say a moun­tain of money has done lit­tle to fight rhino poach­ing be­cause ef­forts are fail­ing on the ground, writes Pear­lie Jou­bert

CityPress - - News - Jou­bert – Pear­lie

At a board meet­ing in Oc­to­ber 2013, 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.

City Press un­der­stands that SANParks sold 120 rhi­nos to white-lion canned hunter Alexan­der Steyn, the owner of Steyn Sa­fari.

Steyn, boast­ing about rhino hunts on his web­site, was also in­volved in canned chee­tah hunts about 10 years ago.

In­fa­mously, he said at the time: “What is canned hunt­ing? ... Canned hunt­ing takes place in a fenced-off area ... the whole of Africa is fenced. The whole of Africa is canned.”

But Steyn’s no­to­ri­ety in the rhino-hunt­ing world goes deeper. In 2008, Steyn hunted rhi­nos on Dawie Groe­newald’s farm. Groe­newald, his wife, wildlife vet­eri­nar­i­ans, pro­fes­sion­als hun­ters, a pi­lot and farm work­ers were ar­rested and charged with 1 736 counts of rack­e­teer­ing, money laun­der­ing, fraud, in­tim­i­da­tion, illegal hunt­ing and deal­ing in rhino horn.

Steyn started buy­ing rhi­nos from the Kruger Park as early as 2004 and was also the sa­fari out­fit­ter for var­i­ous Viet­namese rhino hunts.

City Press has learnt that SANParks sold Steyn 120 rhi­nos at the “mas­sive re­duced fee” of about R220 000 an an­i­mal.

Last year, SANParks signed con­tracts with two wildlife farm­ers selling rhi­nos for R400 000 each, but can­celled the con­tracts af­ter Hec­tor Magome, SANParks’ head of con­ser­va­tion, was con­tro­ver­sially sus­pended.

Steyn, one of his staff mem­bers said, was “over­seas on hol­i­day” and could not be reached for com­ment.

SANParks’ head of com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Paul Daphne, con­firmed the sale of 200 white rhi­nos from the Kruger Park to “a num­ber of pri­vate buy­ers in or­der to sup­port the de­vel­op­ment of vi­able white rhino pop­u­la­tions on pri­vately owned prop­er­ties within South Africa”.

“The bid eval­u­a­tion com­mit­tee ap­plied the best-price prin­ci­ple ... which ap­proved the sale of white rhino on May 14 2015,” he said.

SANParks de­clined to re­veal the names of pri­vate rhino buy­ers – in­clud­ing Steyn.

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