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South Africa is holding its first-ever auction of rhino horns, and conservationists are mad Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

A well-known rhino breeder is behind South Africa’s first-ever legal auction of the animal’s horns, but conservationists are up in arms.

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Despite the country permitting the sale of the some 264 horns and breeder John Hume’s backing, many think the sale will draw attention to the animal, increasing poaching.

Hume, who owns the world’s largest rhino farm, says quite the contrary, arguing that the legal sale of the rare parts will actually decrease the likelihood of poaching.

“A rhino is worth more dead than alive,” Hume said in an interview. “That’s the fact we face because of the law, which puts all the advantage in the hands of the poachers and none in the hands of the breeders.”

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Since 1973, rhino trading has been banned under a U.N. convention. The country’s highest overturned the ruling in April, paving the way for this auction.

Anna Caplan contributes to Rare Houston and Rare Animals. 
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