Saving the Rhinos

South Africa plans to send six Black Rhinos to a national park in Chad next year, restoring a critically endangered species that was last seen in the landlocked African country in the late 1980s.

 

South Africa and Chad on Sunday signed an agreement that will see the re-introduction next year of critically endangered black rhino to the central African country, decades after it was last seen there.

Environment ministers from the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding “which will allow for the translocation of six black rhino from South Africa to Chad,” said an African government statement.

The non-profit group African Parks said Tuesday that the rhinos will go to Chad’s Zakouma National Park, which lies south of the Sahara desert and north of Central African rainforests.

Black rhino are officially listed as critically endangered, but are still native to the mainly eastern and southern African countries of South Africa, Angola, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

They have been re-introduced to several other southern African countries.

There are around 5,000 black rhino left in Africa with South Africa’s population sitting at 1,893, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

European hunters are responsible for the early decline of black rhino populations. It was not uncommon for five or six rhinos to be killed in a day for food or simply for amusement. European settlers that arrived in Africa in the early 20th century to colonize and establish farms and plantations continued this senseless slaughter. Most people regarded rhinos as vermin and exterminated them at all costs.

“DOOMED.” That was the front page headline of the UK newspaper, the Daily Mirror, in 1961, accompanied by a full-page photo of two African rhinos. The article said that rhinos were “doomed to disappear from the face of the earth due to man’s folly, greed, neglect” and encouraged readers to support a new conservation organization: WWF.

“We’ve been fighting to protect African rhinos ever since. Recent success in black rhino conservation is heartening, but a lot of work remains to bring the population up to even a fraction of what it once was – and ensure that it stays there.”

African Parks, which manages Zakouma and 10 other conservation areas in Africa, describes the Chad-bound rhinos as a “founder population,” reflecting hopes that rhino numbers will increase there.

African Parks earlier this year relocated 18 black rhinos to Akagera, a Rwandan park that it manages.


Sources: Press Release | WWF | Associated Press

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