South Africa's private sector is vital to rhino conservation yet there is a lack of research into the attitudes of current and potential rhino owners towards rhino conservation and horn trade. We surveyed 169 members of the South African private wildlife ranching industry to examine these matters. We sought to understand: (1) ranchers’ motivations for owning or not owning rhinos, (2) how rhino ownership affects ranchers’ income and operations, and (3) the attitudes of wildlife industry members towards legalization of global rhino horn trade. Our findings indicate that all respondents recognize the risks of rhino ownership and tend to distrust national and provincial environmental departments. In addition to these concerns, rhino owners have substantial monthly security and management expenditures. We found positive attitudes overall towards global rhino horn trade. Rhino owners strongly agreed that legalization would benefit rhino owners and rhino conservation. Documenting the realities of private rhino ownership and the opinions of the wildlife industry is important for policy design and for informed debate about the legalization of the rhino horn trade.