SA black rhino find a home in Malawi

Rhino file photo.
Rhino file photo.
Image: DANIEL BORN

Seventeen black rhino from SA have been safely relocated to Malawi.

The animals were released earlier this week at the Liwonde National Park.

“This is one of the largest international black rhino translocations to date, which was carried out in conjunction with WWF South Africa, Malawi’s department of national parks and wildlife (DNPW), and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife,” said Africa Parks CEO Peter Fearnhead in a statement.

“Our shared vision is to bolster Malawi’s existing rhino populations and to support regional efforts to conserve this critically endangered species.

“These rhinos were quarantined in KwaZulu-Natal ... for six weeks before being flown to Lilongwe, and were driven over eight hours to their new home — Liwonde National Park — where they were all released,” he said.

In a bid to keep track of the herd and ensure their safety, each rhino was fitted with a GPS sensor.

“Extensive measures to protect these animals [also] include aerial surveillance, daily ranger patrols and the integration of the most advanced technology to enable their live-time tracking,” said Fearnhead.

The department of environment, forestry and fisheries issued a report back on rhino poaching in the first six months of 2019.

“During the period of January to June 2019, the number of rhino poached countrywide was 318,” it said.

This was slightly lower than the 386 recorded during the same period in 2018.

As efforts continue to keep rhinos from extinction, Fearnhead explained why this conservation project was so important.

“With fewer than 5,500 black rhinos remaining in the wild, translocations to well-protected areas are essential in providing for their long-term survival. This is an extremely hopeful endeavour for rhinos, where we are able to go to extreme efforts to supplement secure rhino populations, which is a testament to the Malawian government, and all of our partners involved,” he said.

“The translocation was also made possible with the support of Stichting Natura Africae, Vale Logistics and Save the Rhino International. In addition, WWF Belgium, The Wyss Foundation, and the People’s Postcode Lottery have also provided significant multiyear support for the ongoing management of these parks, and to whom we are very grateful.”

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