- Four black rhino bulls have been successfully moved to the Bonamanzi Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal.
- Having reached maturity, the animals were relocated to prevent conflict between bulls.
- The rhinos were fitted with tracking devices to ensure constant monitoring upon their release.
Four black rhino bulls were successfully transported by truck from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife's Weenen Nature Reserve and the Ithala Game Reserve to the Bonamanzi Game Reserve earlier this month.
The big move was led by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife's Game Capture Unit.
The black rhino bulls were darted, dehorned and loaded into large crates.
Having reached maturity, the animals were relocated to preserve the genetics of the Weenen and Ithala black rhino populations, and to prevent conflict between the bulls.
Weenen reserve's conservation manager Frik Lemmer, said:
"It could lead to fighting, breakouts, and even the... death of one of the animals," he said.
The rhinos were specifically selected for relocation after a thorough assessment, Lemmer added.
The aim of the project is for Ezemvelo to partner with private and communal landowners to increase the habitat available to black rhinos.
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife will hand over the rhinos to the landowners will be responsible for their care and custodianship.
According to the reserve, the relocation to Bonamanzi Game Reserve will not only protect existing populations but also further promote the expansion of black rhino breeding opportunities in KwaZulu-Natal.
Lemmer said the aim of the Black Rhino Range Expansion Project will ultimately promote the growth of the population.
"Black rhinos are very much at risk, which is why the breeding of these animals at smaller reserves like Weenen Nature Reserve is an important part of the population dynamic and the overall conservation of the species," he added.
Since 2003, the project has successfully created 13 new black rhino populations in South Africa.
The move is a first for Bonamanzi Game Reserve, which these bulls being their first ever black rhinos.
Prior to releasing the rhinos into their new home, Wildlife ACT - specialising in threatened species monitoring and conservation - fitted each rhino with a tracking device to ensure constant monitoring upon their release.
The funding of the move came from the Black Rhino Range Expansion Project, which was carried out by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Heligistix and Wildlife ACT.