Rhinos moved to secret home in KZN

2009-10-26 00:00

FOURTEEN black rhinos were released into an undisclosed game reserve in northern KZN last week as part of the Black Rhino Range Expansion Project.

The aim is to forge new territory for the critically endangered black rhinos by establishing founder populations on viable land.

The 14 animals represent the fifth founder population of black rhinos in KZN created through a project which is a joint initiative by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) and Ezemvelo KwaZulu Natal Wildlife.

The rhinos were recently airlifted out of reserves under the control of EKZNW. WWF project leader Dr Jacques Flamand said the project has shown how one species can help many other species.

“Black rhino range in KwaZulu-Natal has increased by more than 25% [about 90 000 hectares] over the last six years. That is excellent for black rhinos, but also for many other species that live alongside them. This includes cheetah, wild dog, vultures, elephants and many of the lesser-known species that also need large areas of undisturbed wild land.”

The project has also shown that partnerships between landowners and formal conservation authorities can be a success, Flamand said.

In terms of the project, EKZNW retains ownership of the founder population of black rhinos, and ownership of their progeny is shared.

Because of South Africa’s unprecedented wave of rhino poaching the site on which the latest black rhinos were released has not been publicly disclosed.

The project concept is being expanded from KZN into other SA regions.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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