Black and white rhinos are classed as ‘critically endangered’ and are being slaughtered in record numbers for their horns, with one sub-species, the western black, confirmed as extinct last year.
But businessmen Ray Dearlove and Allan Davies, who founded the Australian Rhino Project last December, have a plan.
They are currently in discussions with Taronga Zoo and the Australian and South African governments about shipping the animals to Taronga Western Plains Zoo near Dubbo, central NSW, and bred in the hope of creating an ‘insurance’ population.
The Taronga Western Plains Zoo is already home to a small number of black and white rhinos.
A Taronga Zoo spokesman said the plan was still in its ‘very early days.’
The next step, according to Mr Dearlove, is convincing the Australian government to relax its strict quarantine laws to allow the animals into the country.
He said they would then need to convince the South African government to ‘loan’ the animals to Australia, he told Channel 10’s Studio 10 program.
Poaching means white rhino numbers in South Africa are getting dangerously close to the tipping point when deaths outnumber births, pushing the population into serious decline.
Rhino horns, which can earn as much as $20,000 per kilogram on the black market, are believed to cure a number of illnesses and ailments, including poisoning, hallucinations, typhoid, carbuncles, cancer, fever, and boils.
But Dr Arne Schiotz of WWF told the National Geographic, said: ‘You would get the same effect from chewing your own fingernails.’
The horns are smuggled by transnational criminal networks to markets in Vietnam and China. There is evidence of links between the trafficking of rhino parts along with ivory from elephants and other forms of organised crime, such as the trafficking of people, drugs, and weapons.