Rhinos translocated from Addo to Chad

2018-05-09 06:00
= Harry has been darted and is lured into the crate.             Photo:TANYA VAN ZYL

= Harry has been darted and is lured into the crate. Photo:TANYA VAN ZYL

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THERE was a mix of emotions among staff of the Addo Elephant National Park when six black rhinos were translocated from this park to their new home at the Zakouma National Park in Chad, Central Africa on Thursday.

The translocation took place after a memorandum of understanding was signed in October last year between South Africa’s Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa, and the then Minister of Environment and Fisheries of the Republic of Chad, Dr Ahmat Mbodou Mahamat, which allowed for the translocation of black rhino from South Africa to Chad as part of an initiative to reintroduce rhino to this area.

“By establishing a viable and secure rhino population 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 for the past decade,” said Molewa.

The translocation of black rhino is being achieved through a collaboration between the Department of Environmental Affairs, the government of Chad, SANParks and the African Parks Foundation.

The rhinos are translocated to the Zakouma National Park, which has experienced a dramatic decrease in poaching since 2010, with the local elephant population increasing for the first time in more than a decade. The last black rhino in Chad was noted in the ’70s in Zakouma.

The rhinos will be protected and managed by African Parks.

During the translocation, each rhino was placed in a separate boma at Addo Elephant National Park. One by one they were darted by the SANParks veterinarian, Dr David Zimmerman (Veterinary Wildlife Services). They were then lured with food into their crates, where the final checks were done before they were transported to the Port Elizabeth International Airport for their 15-hour journey to Chad on a charter plane.

Molewa was also present when the first four rhinos were loaded at Addo on Thursday. “We are very sad to see the rhinos go, but we are happy for our brothers and sisters who will receive the rhinos,” said Molewa.

She also spoke about this being a step forward in conservation. “We have seen an established downward trend in poaching. We are working with organisations around the world to stop poaching and the purchasing of illegal products, such as ivory.”

The first two rhinos, who were loaded into the crates, were Princess (four to five years old) and Harry (five to six years old), who had both been captured at the Marakele National Park in Limpopo in January before being brought to the Addo bomas. At their arrival in Chad, Princess’s name was changed to Farahatna, meaning “the one that brings happiness” and Harry’s name to Hilmal Watane meaning “the happiness of the nation”.

The rhinos arrived safely in Chad on Friday with no challenges, according to Peter Mbelengwa, spokesperson of the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA).

“They will be kept in the boma for the next two weeks for welfare and monitoring. They will then be tagged with tracking devices and dehorned before they are released,” Mbelengwa said.

  • For a video of the rhino’s translocation, go to the PE Express Facebook page.

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