Namibia plans wildlife auction

July 3, 2008 5:32:34 AM PDT
Six species of rare animals, including eight black rhinos, will be sold in an auction to boost conservation efforts in Namibia, wildlife officials said Wednesday.

Teams were deployed this week in the Etosha National Park - the country's most famous game sanctuary - to capture sable antelope and black-faced impalas. The rhinos and buffalo were captured last month.

Fanuel Demas, director of scientific services in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, said Wednesday the auction would be held July 25.

The government has held such auctions every two years to raise funds that are then used in conserving and managing protected areas. Buyers in the past have mainly been farmers and game reserves in neighboring South Africa.

Namibia, a sparsely populated southern African country, is famous for its desert scenes and its wildlife, which thrives in vast nature reserves and game parks.

Conservation efforts have led to a dramatic increase in populations of lions, cheetahs, elephants and rhinos.

Demas said the five female and three male black rhinos would be sold only to foreign buyers to help manage the country's own rhino population. Similarly, 40 buffalo - 28 females and 12 males - will only be sold for export.

Ninety black-faced impalas, 16 sable antelope and 21 giraffes will be available to buyers in Namibia to boost local breeding stock.

Demas said more than $1 million was raised in the 2006 auction for the Game Products Trust Fund, which was created to channel revenues from wildlife products into conservation and community development programs.