Saturday 5 March 2016

Why the world's largest rhino farmer is cutting off their horns

South African farmer John Hume says he would be "happy" to supply the criminal poaching networks driving the animals to extinction with a legal alternative and the money raised would help him protect his own herd

By Aislinn LaingKlerksdorp, South Africa
6:00AM GMT 26 Feb 2016

In the half-light of a South African dawn, the team works quickly, pinning the stricken rhino down and using a hacksaw to remove its horn.

It's a scene familiar across Africa where the creatures have been driven to the point of extinction. Poachers employed by powerful criminal syndicates supplying a voracious Asian market with their horns have reduced their numbers from 65,000 in the 1970s to 26,000 today.

But at Buffalo Dream Ranch, a farm purposefully hidden down a dirt track near the North West province town of Klerksdorp, the aim is to save rather than harm these lumbering prehistoric beasts.

The farm is the world’s biggest captive breeding operation and houses 1,261 rhinos, four per cent of the global population, with a breeding rate of just under 200 a year.
It is owned by John Hume, 73, an eccentric millionaire who made his money from property timeshares and originally bought a handful of rhino along with other wildlife as a hobby.
Mr Hume made headlines when he first dehorned all his rhino after one was killed by a poacher in 2007.

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