JOHANNESBURG: A leading South African private rhino breeder has announced plans to annually release 100 farm-bred rhinos into the wild to help restock a population decimated by poaching, reports AFP.
The animals will come from a 2,004-strong herd bred by private rhino farmer John Hume, who runs the world's biggest rhino farm on an 8,400-hectare piece of land in South Africa's North West province. The deal to "annually re-wild approximately 100 southern white rhinoceros to their natural habitat in southern Africa is ready for implementation", a spokeswoman for Hume's company Platinum Rhino captive breeding operation said Tuesday.
South Africa is home to about 80 percent of the world's rhino population, but in recent years has suffered record slaughter by poachers.
Official figures show rhino poaching was 15 percent higher in 2021 than the preceding year as coronavirus restrictions that limited movement were eased.
A total of 451 animals were killed last year.
Rhinos are being slaughtered in record numbers to meet the insatiable demand for their horns in countries such as China and Vietnam, often for use in traditional medicines.
The horn is mainly hard keratin, the same substance found in human nails, but on the black market where it is sold in powdered form it is believed to cure cancer and other diseases.
It is classified as near-threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).