Life, Africa

5 endangered black rhinos flown from Europe to Rwanda

Largest translocation of rhinos from Europe to Africa, according to officials

James Tasamba   | 24.06.2019
5 endangered black rhinos flown from Europe to Rwanda

KIGALI, Rwanda

Five endangered black rhinos that have been in captivity in Europe have safely arrived in Rwanda where they will be released into the Akagera National Park, an official said Monday.

Sanny Ntayombya, head of communications and marketing at Rwanda Development Board (RDB) told Anadolu Agency the rhinos comprise of three females and two males aged between two and nine.

The five animals were born and bred in Europe but had been in captivity in Zoos for their whole lives.

The rhinos identified as Manny, Jasiri, and Jasmina were born in Safari Park Dvur Kralove in the Czech Republic. While Mandela comes from Ree Park Safari in Denmark and Olmoti is from Flamingo Land in the United Kingdom.

The translocation was a result of collaboration between several organizations including the European Association of Zoos, the Government of Rwanda and conservation NGO African Parks, which co-manages Akagera National Park with Rwanda Development Board.

A statement issued last week said the translocation of the five rhinos was the largest ever from Europe to Africa.

“The translocation of five rhinos from European zoos to Rwanda will further enhance the natural ecosystem in Akagera National Park,” Clare Akamanzi, Chief Executive Officer of RDB said in the statement.

“Today, poaching is almost non-existent in our four national parks and we are confident that these rhinos will thrive in their natural habitat in Akagera. They are a positive addition to Akagera, a park where tourists can now visit the African Big Five,” she said.

Jes Gruner, Manager of Akagera National Park said they had been preparing for the animals' transfer for years in an effort to revitalize the nature reserve.

“This transport of five rhinos from Europe is historic and symbolic, and shows what is possible when dedicated partners collaborate to help protect and restore a truly endangered species,” he said.

Officials said the rhinos had undergone months of sensitization to prepare them for the 30 hour-long flight from Europe to Africa.

Experienced zookeepers from the Safari Park Dvur Kralove and a veterinarian expert in rhino translocations accompanied and monitored the animals throughout the trip.

“They will first be kept in bomas – enclosures made by wooden poles. Later, they will enjoy larger enclosures in a specially protected area. The final step will be to release them into the northern part of the national park where they will roam free,” Premysl Rabas, Director of Safari Park Dvur Kralove said. 

In 2017, Rwanda teamed up with African Parks and reintroduced 18 rhinos to the Akagera Park with support from the Howard Buffett Foundation, a decade after rhinos had been wiped out due to poaching.

The number of rhinos has decreased in Africa due to the threat of poaching.

According to African Parks, there are less than 5,000 wild black rhinos and only 1,000 Eastern Black Rhinos remaining on the continent.

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