IN PICS | Nearly three dozen white rhino from SA flown safely to Rwanda

A tranquilised rhino is moved carefully into a crate for transportation from SA to Rwanda.
A tranquilised rhino is moved carefully into a crate for transportation from SA to Rwanda.
Image: Martin Meyer / African Parks

In a mammoth effort, 30 rhino have been moved from SA to Rwanda in the biggest-ever single translocation of the species.

The move — in an effort to extend the white rhino range and create a secure new breeding stronghold in Rwanda — took place on Saturday.

The animals have been introduced into the Akagera National Park, and sourced from the andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal. The move was a collaboration between the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), African Parks, and andBeyond, with funding provided by the Howard G Buffett Foundation.

“This is an opportunity for Rwanda to substantially advance its contribution to rhino conservation, with Akagera poised to become a globally important sanctuary for black and now white rhinoceros. This is timely for the conservation of these incredibly threatened species.

“We’re extremely proud of our conservation partnerships and our national parks, which are playing a pivotal role in meeting biodiversity targets and in driving sustainable, transformative, equitable socioeconomic growth,” said Ariella Kageruka, RDB acting chief tourism officer.

Their journey covered a total distance of more than 3,400km and forms the largest single rhino translocation in history. The rhinos will be monitored daily in Akagera by a dedicated team and a specialist veterinarian who will oversee their acclimation.

“Introductions to safe, intact wild landscapes are vital for the future of vulnerable species like white rhino, which are under considerable human-induced pressures,” said African Parks’ CEO Peter Fearnhead.

White rhino 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,” says Simon Naylor, andBeyond Phinda conservation manager.  

To ensure that this 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.

“Our foundation is pleased to continue to invest in Akagera’s remarkable transformation into a critical national park for Rwanda and an example of responsible conservation for the African continent and the world,” said Howard G Buffett, chairperson and CEO of the Howard G Buffett Foundation.

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