Thursday, 3 May 2018

SOUTH AFRICA: Black Rhinos Trans-located To Chad From South Africa

50 years after they were hunted to local extinction, black rhinos will again roam the wilds of the Central African nation of Chad.

This is the latest chapter in a movement to bring big mammals back to former ranges on the continent.

Six rhinos will be flown to Chad’s Zakouma National Park from the South African city of Port Elizabeth, sedated and confined in specially crafted crates to ensure they don’t cause a commotion mid-air.

The initiative comes against the backdrop of a poaching crisis that saw more than 1,000 rhinos slain in South Africa last year to meet red hot demand for their horns in Asia, where they are prized for their alleged medicinal properties.

With 18,000 white rhinos and 2,000 of the smaller black rhino, South Africa is home to about 80 percent of the global population of the pachyderms, making it the springboard for reintroduction efforts elsewhere.

By establishing a viable and secure population of rhino in Chad, we are contributing to the expansion of the rhino population in Africa and the survival of a species that has faced high levels of poaching, said South African Environment Minister Edna Molewa.

No rhino has been seen in Chad since the early 1970s.

African Parks, a non-government organization which runs Chad's Zakouma and other reserves, has also reintroduced rhinos and lions from South Africa to Rwanda and is planning to relocate lions to Malawi.

We have been using the history of conservation success in South Africa to repopulate other areas in Africa, Andrew Parker, director of conservation at African Parks,said.

The Chad-bound rhinos were in the fortified enclosures or bomas for three months in preparation for their long haul.

The animals have been fed lucerne, a kind of super-nutritious hay, the past few weeks.

It will be initially provided to them in Chad as they adjust their diet to new trees and shrubs.

Security has been tight, the animals’ location was kept under wraps, they will be given a police escort to the airport, and in Chad they will be dehorned and fitted with transponders.

Jumbo sized logistics and planning go into such an operation, the animals were tranquilized in Marakele National Park in northern South Africa and then brought to Addo, which has better facilities.

Cranes hoisted the crates containing the rhinos onto flat-bed trucks and they will be monitored carefully by vets on the plane for the 15-hour trip which involves two stops.

The hope is that the two bulls and four cows will establish a breeding herd which will be the most northern wild population of the species in Africa.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, there are only approximately 5000 black rhinos left on the African continent.

South Africa is home to just under 2000 black rhinos but, with the recent influx of poaching, numbers are declining.

The wildlife rich country is also home to 20,000 white rhinos which make up approximately 80% of the total population.

Sadly, more than 7000 of them have been poached for their horns, which is a coveted medicinal ingredient in China and Vietnam.

The Ambassador of the European Union in Chad, Madame Denisa-Elena Ionete said that, the Chad-EU cooperation has enabled the success of Zakouma National Park, and the extension of a conservation management mandate for African Parks will increase its footprint over a larger area.

Experience also demonstrates the close links between safety, development and environmental conservation, safety has improved considerably around the park thanks to the effective anti-poaching mechanism set up in cooperation with the security forces.

Socioeconomic development has been fostered through the creation of jobs, the promotion of tourism revenues and local enterprise development.


Tourism Observer
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