First phase of rhino translocations successful: SANParks

Johannesburg - SA National Parks (SANParks) on Thursday announced the successful completion of the first phase of the Strategic Rhino Translocation Programme from the Kruger National Park.

"In terms of this programme, a number of rhino are being moved out of poaching hotspots in the Kruger National Park to safer destinations either inside the Park or outside the Park," chairperson of the SANParks conservation and tourism committee Prof Gerry Swan said in a statement.

"The focus of the first phase has been on the capture and translocation of rhino from areas of high poaching activity to the safer areas within the Kruger National Park. These are areas where an additional deployment of resources and technology provides a more secure environment for the rhino."

Between October and November, 29 rhino were moved from the hotspots into safer areas within the Park. Seventeen of these animals had been fitted with tracking devices and were successfully tracked subsequent to their release.

"Based on observations through the monitoring programme it has been reported that the translocated rhino have integrated well with the resident populations in the areas to which they have been moved," Swan said.

"It has been further reported that none of the rhino translocated have thus far been poached."

Kuseni Dlamini, chairperson of the SANParks board, said the translocated rhino were "safe and have settled well".

"The capture and translocation of these rhino went off without a hitch, and we would like to congratulate our game capture team for the professional manner in which they have conducted this operation".

Several other rhinos had also been moved to other national parks and reserves, which had better security facilities.

"Through moving rhino to protected areas in other parts of the country, SANParks is supporting the establishment and growth of viable rhino populations in a number of protected areas apart from the Kruger National Park," said Swan.

In regards to the rhino sales component of the programme from the Park, Swan said a total number of 20 bid proposals plus two late bids were received.

In line with the advertised bid mandatory requirements, the screening of the received proposals had been concluded and the bid process was currently under technical evaluation.

"The bid evaluation committee has completed the best price principle assessment," said Swan.

"The sale of rhino by SANParks to private landowners, who comply with all security and habitat requirements, is part of the overall strategy to support the growth of viable populations in a range of areas in order to provide a basis for securing the protection and growth of the rhino meta-population in Southern Africa."

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