With the current rhino poaching crisis in South Africa, most of the focus tends to be on rhinos which are currently in National Parks and Reserves. The majority of the funding for the preservation of rhinos comes from overseas, predominantly from concerned individual citizens by the way of donations who want to see ‘free roaming’ rhinos in their natural environment, therefore, it is understandable that most of this assistance goes to these National Parks and Reserves.
Ultimately the battle for the preservation of the rhinos will be won at the International and National levels (remove demand), but until this happens all rhinos remain vulnerable. Given the difficulties of ‘protecting’ rhinos in Parks and Reserves, the future of the preservation of the African rhino rests with private rhino owners, and in fact SANParks has recognised this by recently ‘selling’ 500 rhinos to private owners.
There is currently a perception that private rhino owners keep rhinos for business purposes (ie. make a profit from it!), which could not be further from the truth. There is currently no possible way for a private rhino owner to make money out of owning rhinos. In fact, it costs approximately R70 000.00 per year (dehorning, food supplements, infrastructure maintenance, veterinary fees and utilities) to own each rhino! This does NOT include any security costs or initial purchase price. While it is possible to sell the rhino offspring, which come at a rate of approximately one per four years, all this achieves is to offset the loss slightly (ie. it costs approximately R560 000.00 to produce a R200 000.00 baby.
The minimum cost to provide fully costed, counter poaching services to a private rhino owners starts at R162 000.00 per year, with a full cost model coming it at approximately R700 000.00 per year. RhinoGuard, has been established to offer some form of subsidised (or even free) counter poaching services, utilising the resources available through ESD, to private rhino owners.