Africa’s biggest-horned and disease-free buffalo was valued at a record amount on Saturday after South Africa-based businessman Peter Bellingham bought a 25 percent share for 44 million rand ($2.8 million).
That values the animal, named Horizon for his wide horn span, at a record 176 million rand, surpassing the 40 million rand paid for a buffalo named Mystery by a group including billionaire Johann Rupert in 2013. Horizon’s horns are 55 inches wide, compared with Mystery’s 53 inches. It also doesn’t suffer from tuberculosis, a disease afflicting many wild buffalo in South Africa.
“It was a unique opportunity to own the best genes in the world,” said Hendrik de Kock, a marketer at Wildswinkel (Pty) Ltd., which ran the auction.
Horizon’s four owners, including Bellingham, have the right to provide him with ten buffalo cows each year and keep the offspring, De Kock said. Breeders in South Africa, 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 jewelry maker Richemont, the maker of Cartier watches. South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Norman Adami, the former chairman of SABMiller Plc’s local unit, have also made investments in the animals.
Horizon’s sale bucks the recent trend for wild animal prices in South Africa. Average buffalo prices, including females, dropped 30 percent to 334,879 rand in 2015, according to data compiled by South Africa’s North West University. Prices of sable and roan, both types of antelope, dropped 35 percent and 39 percent respectively.