A Zambian sable antelope bull was sold for R27 million ($1.96 million), more than double the previous record, at a game auction in northern South Africa.
The animal, known as Mopanie, is four and a half years old and has curved horns of 48 inches (1.2 meters). The bull was bought by a game farmer from Letsitele, 445 kilometers (277 miles) northeast of Johannesburg, on Thursday. The sale of a second animal, named Deuce, for R21 million also broke the record for a Zambian sable bull of R12.25 million. The two have the same father, Piet, a bull with horns of almost 54 inches, according to auctioneer Niel Swart of Vleissentraal.
“The aim is to breed a sable with 60-inch horns,” Swart said by phone on Friday. “The breeders will have special female animals to use with these types of genes to try and get to that 60-inch bull.”
Driven by growing demand from international hunters for exotic and large-horned animals, South Africa’s game-ranching industry is valued at close to R12 billion a year and is growing at about 10% annually, according to Barclays Africa.
Thursday’s auction of 41 animals generated turnover of R137.7 million. The sales included an intermediate sable bull called Zulu for R17 million, more than double the previous highest price of R5.8 million for this type of antelope.
“The auction had 41 stud bulls for the big farmers who have the dream of breeding a larger animal, so it’s all about genetics,” Swart said.
Mystery, a tuberculosis-free buffalo with a 53-inch horn span, was bought for R40 million by a group including billionaire Johann Rupert in 2013, while Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa sold three white-flanked impala antelope for R27.3 million in September 2014. A greater kudu bull was sold for 9.4 million rand two weeks ago.
Zambian sable antelopes have dark coats with white underparts, cheeks and chins and can weigh as much as 235 kilograms (518 pounds).
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