Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife auctioned more than 1‚000 wild animals on Monday‚ injecting just over R8 million into the cash-strapped conservation agency’s depleted coffers.
But this desperately needed revenue was a small drop in the ocean‚ considering that Ezemvelo’s operating revenue has been cut by about R145 million this year because of state subsidy cuts.
Altogether‚ Ezemvelo sold 1‚183 animals at its 28th annual action at the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park – including 10 white rhinos which fetched a total of R3.6 million.
The agency also sold almost 350 zebras at an average price of R2‚700 each‚ 265 impala for just under R900 each and over 220 blue wildebeest for R2‚700 each.
10 white rhinos ere also sold, fetching a total of R3.6 million. Photo: ROGAN WARD
Hippo fetched good prices‚ with two of these animals raising R60‚000 apiece.
Swazi wildlife conservationist Ted Reilly‚ who turned 79 on Monday‚ splashed out more than R100‚000 on some wild birthday presents for himself – including R58‚000 on a single adult waterbuck bull and 20 springbuck for R2‚400 each.
He drove down from Mbabane for the day‚ with some buyers travelling from as far afield as Limpopo and Mpumalanga.
Buffaloes fetched prices of just under R44‚000 each‚ with one large bull selling for R115‚000.
Giraffe prices were quite low‚ selling for around R6‚700 each – half of what they sold for six years ago.
Swazi wildlife conservationist Ted Reilly paid R58‚000 for a single adult waterbuck bull. Photo. ROGAN WARD
The cheapest animals on sale were impala‚ which fetched less than R900 each‚ also considerably less than the average price of R1‚300 each last year.
The highest price of the day was R520‚000 for a dehorned white rhino cow from the Spioenkop Nature Reserve‚ which came with a small female calf as a bonus.
Welcoming buyers to the auction‚ park manager Jabulani Ngubane acknowledged that Ezemvelo was facing a major rhino poaching onslaught.
“Our field rangers go out into the field each day knowing that today‚ they could come home in a body bag.”
It is believed that 93 rhinos have been poached in KZN this year‚ with most of these animals shot and dehorned in the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park.