At a board meeting in October 2013, SANParks decided to sell and move rhinos out of the Kruger National Park for their own safety as part of a comprehensive rhino-management strategy.
City Press understands that SANParks sold 120 rhinos to white-lion canned hunter Alexander Steyn, the owner of Steyn Safari.
Steyn, boasting about rhino hunts on his website, was also involved in canned cheetah hunts about 10 years ago.
Infamously, he said at the time: “What is canned hunting? … Canned hunting takes place in a fenced-off area … the whole of Africa is fenced. The whole of Africa is canned.”
But Steyn’s notoriety in the rhino-hunting world goes deeper. In 2008, Steyn hunted rhinos on Dawie Groenewald’s farm. Groenewald, his wife, wildlife veterinarians, professionals hunters, a pilot and farm workers were arrested and charged with 1 736 counts of racketeering, money laundering, fraud, intimidation, illegal hunting and dealing in rhino horn.
Steyn started buying rhinos from the Kruger Park as early as 2004 and was also the safari outfitter for various Vietnamese rhino hunts.
City Press has learnt that SANParks sold Steyn 120 rhinos at the “massive reduced fee” of about R220 000 an animal.
Last year, SANParks signed contracts with two wildlife farmers selling rhinos for R400 000 each, but cancelled the contracts after Hector Magome, SANParks’ head of conservation, was controversially suspended.
Steyn, one of his staff members said, was “overseas on holiday” and could not be reached for comment.
SANParks’ head of communications, Paul Daphne, confirmed the sale of 200 white rhinos from the Kruger Park to “a number of private buyers in order to support the development of viable white rhino populations on privately owned properties within South Africa”.
“The bid evaluation committee applied the best-price principle … which approved the sale of white rhino on May 14 2015,” he said.
SANParks declined to reveal the names of private rhino buyers – including Steyn.