Ever wanted to own your very own thundering herd of rhinoceroses? If you’ve got $10 million to spare, it could be your lucky day.
David Hume, a South African conservationist and entrepreneur, has announced plans to auction off his rhinoceros farm, which he founded 14 years ago to help combat poaching. He started the farm with about 200 rhinos, planning to breed them and ethically harvest their horns. (He then named the facility “Buffalo Dream Ranch” to throw poachers off the scent.) Hume’s hope was that ethically sourced rhino horn would one day become legal. When it did, he was sure he’d be able to sell his stockpile and recoup the funds he’d sunk into the operation.
The problem, reports National Geographic, is that selling rhino horn was never officially legalized. That includes horn obtained in ways that don’t harm the animals. Because poaching is one of the leading threats to rhinos worldwide, legislators have always feared that legalizing the trade it in any form would simply fuel illegal horn markets and lead to even more rhino deaths.
So, over the last 15 years, Hume’s stockpile of horn kept growing—and so did his population of farmed white rhinos. New baby rhinos were born every year. The 200 he started with now number nearly 2,000. Upkeep—including veterinary care, land costs, and regular horn trimming—is expensive. So is protecting the rhinos from poachers.
According to the auction documents, Hume spends more than $200,000 annually on security alone. That includes high-tech cameras, regular helicopter patrols, and about 60 paid guards. The costs have made the venture financially untenable.
“[Hume] has invested over US$100m of his life’s earnings into the project, and he has sadly reached the end of his financial wherewithal to continue,” state the business sales documents. Starting on April 26, Buffalo Dream Ranch will be put up for auction. That includes all 1,976 rhinos, plus a collection of other animals including giraffes, hippos, and—inexplicably—llamas.
The auction website calls it “a unique opportunity to own the most important population of Southern White Rhino in the world.” We call it an expensive proposition. (Did we mention the starting bid is $10 million?)
While Hume hopes some other conservation-minded outfit will swoop in and take his business off his hands, no organizations have yet announced plans to bid, reports Nat Geo. So, if you’ve got some cash to spare and a soft spot for 7,000-pound herbivores? Consider throwing your name in the ring. You may be the only one.