Johannesburg: A buffalo named Horizon has bagged the title of world’s most expensive after his part-sale to a South African businessman saw his value rise to £8.5 million.
Horizon is valued at more than four times the most recently fetched price for a prize buffalo, thanks to the 4ft span of his horns, the width of a large flat screen television.
His value was bolstered when Peter Bellingham bought a 25 per cent share in him for over £2.1 million in February.
The cape buffalo species forms part of Africa’s Big Five safari animals, along with lions, elephant, rhino and leopard.
Wide-horned and tuberculosis-free buffalo are particularly prized in South Africa for breeding to stock game reserves for tourists and hunters, who pay more for the trophy potential of large horns.
African buffalo used to have horns spanning wider than 5ft but hunting over generations removed the largest animals. Breeders are now trying to restore the big horned buffalo through breeding programmes.
Horizon triples the value of every buffalo he impregnates, with a normal pregnant buffalo worth an average £38,000, compared to one carrying Horizon’s offspring worth more than £121,000.
He is now owned by four South African businessmen and resides on the farm of one of hisowners, Piet du Toit, in Rustenberg, South Africa. Each can use him to breed with ten cows each year, and then hold the rights for the offspring that those cows produce.
Game breeder Piet du Toit, 45, said it was rare that a prize bull’s offspring were also prize animals but Horizon’s had all been “excellent”.
“Breeders in South Africa are the biggest market for such animals and are willing to pay incredible record prices for the genes of buffalos they believe can increase their herd’s horn span,” he said.
The previous record for the most expensive wild game sale was of a Cape Buffalo named Mystery, bought by South African billionaire Johann Rupert for 40 million South African Rand (£1.9 million) in 2013.
Cyril Ramaphosa, a former trade unionist and South Africa’s current deputy president who is tipped to take over from President Jacob Zuma, was forced to apologise in 2012 when he bid R19m for a buffalo at auction. His critics said the move was inappropriate for a politician working “in a sea of poverty”.