The last 20 white rhino that the Kruger National Park (KNP) is selling this financial year will go from veld-to-veld says Dr Markus Hofmeyr, head of Sanparks Veterinary Wildlife Services Unit. This is because the rhino bomas at Skukuza are currently being renovated to make them more “rhino-resistant”.|
Every year the KNP sells a certain number of rhino, either veld-to-veld or from the Skukuza bomas. The bomas can hold an absolute maximum of 32 young rhino, but more commonly hold 20 animals, a mixture of adults and youngsters. Dr Hofmeyr says, “The rhinos work the bomas hard”, and that the revamped bomas will have more steel poles to help them withstand both the weather and the rhinos’ destructive tendencies. More catwalks will also be added to make it safer for the staff.
The bomas were originally built in the 1990s, and underwent some repairs in 2001. Only a small section of the bomas that was fixed in 2004 will not form part of this year’s R1.2 million renovation. The project is being funded by the department of environmental affairs and by a donation from the National Ports Authority.The upgrading of the bomas is expected to be completed by May, in time for the cooler months when game capture is most commonly carried out. Since the reintroduction of rhino into Kruger from KwaZulu-Natal in the 1960s, the population has now bred so successfully that in some areas of Kruger there is such a high density of animals that they kill each other in territorial disputes.
Rhino are captured in these areas to reduce the social pressure on the animals. Every year the park has a quota of around 100 rhino that it can potentially translocate, some of which are sold. Others are exchanged with other national parks. The money raised from the sales is used by Sanparks for buying more land for national parks or for dedicated conservation projects. Rhinos fetch from R60,000 to R250,000, with bulls costing the least and cow-calf pairs the most.