World Rhino Day 2020 – CCFA translocating rhinos for the sustainability of wildlife conservation
World Rhino Day is celebrated on September 22 every year! This special day provides the opportunity for cause-related organisations, NGOs, zoos and members of the public to celebrate rhinos in their own unique ways. CCFA would like to use this day to showcase one of our project of which we are extraordinarily proud: The relocation of 5 Eastern black rhinos from the Czech Republic to Rwanda.
A year ago…
In 2019, five Eastern Black rhinos flew 6 000kms from a safari park in Czech Republic to Akagera National Park in Rwanda, in what was the largest ever transportation of rhinos from Europe to Africa. We are proud that we were part of the team by assisting with funding of the logistics for this successful relocation project.
Why the move?
Transporting rhino on such a long journey is not without its challenges. But, with fewer than 5000 Wild black rhinos and 1 000 Eastern black rhinos currently roaming game parks in Africa and poaching an ongoing problem, it is essential to relocate and rehabilitate rhino from other parts of the world. Not only to supplement the numbers but to develop a new, genetically diverse, rhino population. CCFA endeavours to support projects such as these which contribute to sustainable wildlife conservation.
The project began with the vision of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) – to help supplement the rhino populations in secure parks in Africa. The three female and two male rhinos ranging in age from two to nine years old are genetically robust and successful breeders – all under the watchful eye of EAZA’s ex situ programme.
The rhino relocated are a cosmopolitan bunch. Jasiri, Jasmina and Manny were born in Safari Park Dvûr KráIové (Czech Republic); Olmoti comes from Flamingo Land (United Kingdom) and Mandela is from Ree Park Safari (Denmark).
TLC all the way
Moving rhino is a long process and the famous five took part in sensitization exercises for months prior to their trip to minimize the stress of the journey. They were also accompanied by experienced zookeepers from Safari Park Dvûr KráIové as well as veterinarian Dr. Pete Morkel, a world expert in rhino translocations. The team looked after them during the trip and stayed until they were fully introduced to their final destination in Rwanda.
‘If we don’t have conviction, Rhinos face extinction.’
The first anniversary
A year later – the first anniversary of the big move for the famous five. It was a long journey, the convoy left the Czech Republic on the 23rd June, 2019. Traveling overnight by air, the rhinos arrived in Rwanda early the following morning to be transported by road to Akagera National Park. After the long journey the rhinos settled in well and started the transition to living in Africa.
Shortly after their arrival they were fitted with transmitters to allow close monitoring of their movements as they adapted to their new environment. They were slowly weaned onto a diet of natural vegetation and gradually allowed to roam in increasingly large enclosures. By the end of the year they had been released into a 2 500 hectare area and continue to be monitored daily by a specialized team of rangers.
Currently, the youngest of the group, a female named Jasiri, spends her time with the young male, Mandela.
Both are browsing naturally for themselves and are in very good condition. The other duo, females Jasmina and Olmoti, stay together feeding mostly on natural browse but they have also been supplemented with pellets and lucerne.
Sadly, the older of the males, Manny, died in February. Despite the best veterinarian advice and being provided the same care and conditions as the other rhinos, Manny did not adapt well. The team was devastated.
Mandela and Jasiri
Olmoti and Jasmina
Mandela and Jasiri
Despite the terrible loss, it’s important to remember and celebrate the success of such a big move. Establishing a robust population of this critically endangered and highly vulnerable species is a long term project goal. It will be some time before the four are fully released into the wider park, where they will have the chance of meeting the park’s existing rhinos and contributing to the growth and genetic diversity of this important population.
The rhinos and the team that monitors them, have made important advances and the outlook is very positive. The successes of this project are very much down to the collaboration and care of all involved and their dedication to conserving Eastern black rhino.
Why rhinos matter
Rhinos have been around for years and play a crucial role within their habitats. They are important grazers, consuming large amounts of vegetation which helps shape the African landscape. This benefits many other species, including elephant and helps keep a healthy balance within the ecosystem. Rhinos have also been an important source of income from ecotourism. They are now critically endangered and protection of black rhinos has been increasingly important, they now thrive in protected sanctuaries.
We look forward to updating you in the future about how the relocated rhino group are thriving and hopefully welcoming a calf or two into the family.
If you would like to get involved or make a donation that will assist us to continue to implement community conservation, we and the rhinos would be forever grateful. https://www.ccfa.africa/support/recurring-donations/
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