Rwanda receives 30 white rhinos in single largest translocation

Initiative will extend white rhino range, create secure new breeding stronghold, say officials

James Tasamba   | 29.11.2021
Rwanda receives 30 white rhinos in single largest translocation File Photo

KIGALI, Rwanda

Rwanda has received 30 white rhinos from South Africa in a largest single transaction, authorities said Monday.

The rhinos were carried from andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve in South Africa to Akagera National Park in eastern Rwanda.

The translocation was carried out through collaboration between the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), African Parks and andBeyond, with funding from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.

In a statement, the RDB said the initiative aims to extend the white rhino range and create a secure new breeding stronghold in Rwanda.

This, it said, would support their population growth to ensure the long-term survival of the species in the wild amid high levels of poaching which continue to exert unsustainable pressure on current populations.

Ariella Kageruka, the RDB acting chief tourism officer, said the translocation offered an opportunity for Rwanda to substantially advance its contribution to rhino conservation.

“Akagera is poised to become a globally important sanctuary for black and now white rhinoceros. This is timely for the conservation of these incredibly threatened species,” she said.

The rhinos were flown to Rwanda and transported to Akagera on Saturday after covering over 3,400 kilometers (2,112 miles).

The giant mammals will be monitored daily in the park by a dedicated team and a specialist veterinarian who will be overseeing their acclimation.

African Parks’ chief executive, Peter Fearnhead, said introductions to safe and intact wild landscapes are vital for the future of vulnerable species like white rhinos, which are under considerable human-induced pressure.

White rhinos are classified as near threatened with numbers declining across existing strongholds, largely due to poaching driven by demand for their horns.

“We have meticulously managed and grown the rhino population at Phinda over 30 years,” said Simon Naylor, andBeyond Phinda conservation manager.

In 2010, the Rwanda Development Board and African Parks partnered to manage Akagera, transforming the park into one of the most coveted wildlife destinations in Africa and a sustainable revenue source for the region’s communities.

Since then wildlife has grown and key returns have occurred, where lions were reintroduced in 2015 and black rhinos in 2017 and 2019.

Officials said to ensure that the new population of white rhinos also flourishes, each rhino has been fitted with a transmitter to enable constant monitoring by dedicated tracking teams; a canine anti-poaching unit and helicopter surveillance are also in place to provide further support for their long-term protection.

Howard G. Buffett, chairman and CEO of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, said it was deeply personal for him to support the first black rhino reintroduction to Akagera in 2017.

“It is incredible that we have the opportunity to support this historic translocation today. Akagera is now positioned to become a key rhino stronghold for the continent, demonstrating what is possible in conservation when public and private partners collaborate,” he said.

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