Johannesburg - A Zambian sable antelope bull was sold for R27m, 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 1.2 metres. The bull was bought by a game farmer from Letsitele, 445km northeast of Johannesburg, on Thursday. The sale of a second animal, named Deuce, for R21m also broke the record for a Zambian sable bull of R12.25m. The two have the same father, Piet, a bull with horns of almost 1.37 metres, according to auctioneer Niel Swart of Vleissentraal.
“The aim is to breed a sable with 1.52-metre 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 (1.52 metre) 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 R12bn a year and is growing at about 10% annually, according to Barclays Africa Group.
Thursday’s auction of 41 animals generated turnover of R137.7m. The sales included an intermediate sable bull called Zulu for R17m, more than double the previous highest price of R5.8m 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 1.35-metre horn span, was bought for R40m by a group including billionaire Johann Rupert in 2013, while Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa sold three white-flanked impala antelope for R27.3m in September 2014. A greater kudu bull was sold for R9.4m two weeks ago.
Zambian sable antelopes have dark coats with white underparts, cheeks and chins and can weigh as much as 235 kg.