AFRICA’S biggest-horned and disease-free buffalo was valued at a record amount on Saturday, after SA-based businessman Peter Bellingham bought a 25% share for R44m.
That values the animal, named Horizon for his wide horn span, at a record R176m, surpassing the R40m paid for a buffalo named Mystery by a group including billionaire Johann Rupert, in 2013. Horizon’s horns are 55 inches (139.7cm) wide, compared with Mystery’s 53 inches (134.62cm). It also does not have tuberculosis, a disease afflicting many wild buffalo in SA.
“It was a unique opportunity to own the best genes in the world,” said Hendrik de Kock, a marketer at Wildswinkel, which ran the auction.
Horizon’s four owners, including Mr Bellingham, have the right to provide him with 10 buffalo cows each year and keep the offspring, Mr de Kock said. Breeders in SA, the biggest market for such animals, are willing to pay record prices for the genes of buffaloes they believe can increase their herd’s horn span, which is desirable to hunters.
The industry has attracted wealthy investors such as Rupert, who controls jewellery maker Richemont, the maker of Cartier watches. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Norman Adami, the former chairman of SABMiller’s local unit, have also made investments in the animals.
Horizon’s sale bucks the recent trend for wild animal prices in SA. Average buffalo prices, including females, dropped 30% to R334,879 in 2015, according to data compiled by North West University. Prices of sable and roan, both types of antelope, dropped 35% and 39% respectively.