Biodiversity, Climate Change, Community, Community Development, Conservation, Great Limpopo TFCA, Mozambique, Partnerships, Rewilding, TFCAs, Tourism, Zinave National Park

Mozambique Government, Peace Parks Foundation and Partners Secure Massive Success for Rhino Survival

Third group of rhino from South Africa to Mozambique establishes viable population in Zinave National Park.

[Zinave National Park, 10 September 2023]:

In an extraordinary achievement for transboundary conservation and community livelihoods, an additional 10 rhinos have been successfully transported from South Africa to Zinave National Park, Mozambique. This marks a significant milestone in the park’s ongoing restoration efforts.

The ambitious operation, the third following last year’s pioneering cross-border rhino translocations, is the result of a collaborative partnership between Mozambique’s National Administration for Conservation Areas (ANAC), Peace Parks Foundation, and Exxaro Resources, with the support of the Government of South Africa. Exxaro generously donated the rhinos and have made a substantial contribution to the park’s operational costs, with additional funding provided by Anglo American, the De Beers Group, Geos Foundation, German Postcode Lottery, the MAVA Foundation and private donors.

This latest translocation includes 5 black (classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List of Species) and 5 white rhino (classified as Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List of Species) from Manketti Game Reserve in South Africa to Zinave, and forms part of a larger landmark effort to restore numbers of both species in the park to establish a founder population of African rhino in Mozambique.

Established in 1973, Zinave National Park holds the distinction of being Mozambique’s first Big Five national park and plays a crucial role within the Great Limpopo transboundary landscape. ANAC and Peace Parks Foundation signed a 20-year agreement in 2015 to restore, develop, and manage Zinave, setting the stage for its remarkable restoration and leading to immeasurable biodiversity benefits. The long-term objective is to restore a vast landscape of over 100,000 square kilometres, spanning the international borders of three countries.

The three consecutive rhino road-trips since 2022 mark the longest successful overland transfer of both species, from Manketti Reserve in South Africa to Zinave National Park in Mozambique.

Equally significant is the empowerment of Zinave’s communities, enabling them to participate in the initiative and share in its economic returns, fostering equitable and sustainable conservation.

Mozambique proudly holds the global stage with its first rhino reintroduction into Zinave National Park, underscoring our commitment to biodiversity conservation and community upliftment. Together with Peace Parks, we’re realising the untapped potential of responsible tourism, heralding a new era of celebrated impact for both our precious landscapes and our people.

The Hon Ms Ivete Maibaze, Minister of Land and the Environment, Mozambique

Two previous successful rewilding operations saw the relocation of 20 white and seven black rhinos from Exxaro’s private reserve in South Africa. These pioneering translocations, reintroducing the first 27 African rhino to populate the park in more than four decades, still remain the longest distance by road that rhino have ever been relocated from one destination to another. The addition of five more individuals from each species further strengthens the foundations of Mozambique’s first Big Five pillars of biodiversity and tourism in Zinave.

The three key partners, supported by specialist teams, dedicated years to meticulous planning, culminating in a three-day road journey to transport the rhinos under the supervision of veterinary and security experts.

The long road to a new home: the crate-laden trucks, accompanied by vet teams, technical specialists and a high security convoy, take a vital stopover to feed and water the 10 rhino before continuing their epic journey to Zinave. This cross-border route, traveled three times since 2022 with a total of 37 rhino, is the longest road transfer ever successfully undertaken to move the two species.

Professional care will continue as the rhinos acclimate to their new environment, ensuring their protection through the deployment of Quick Response Force rangers and state-of-the-art conservation technology, creating a long-term safeguard for the entire national park.

As a responsible mining company, Exxaro embraces Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles through our momentous decision to donate rhinos to Zinave. This initiative reflects our commitment not only to mining, but also to fostering sustainable ecosystems and thriving communities. This landmark partnership with Peace Parks Foundation serves as a model for ESG in action, promoting biodiversity while underscoring the integral role every stakeholder plays in the future of these species.

Dr Nombasa Tsengwa, CEO of Exxaro Resources

The impressive demonstration of functional transboundary landscapes through political will and leadership of the Governments of Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe, has paved the way for effective implementation, capacity-building and expertise, enabling conservation and enterprise at an unprecedented scale.

Years of meticulous planning was essential for the technical, multi-stage translocation to come together smoothly and safely. Rhino capture is a complex, challenging and highly sensitive process; sedated animals are kept calm with blindfolds until they’ve been loaded into crates for travel. Professional care from vets and specialists will continue as the rhino adjust to their new surroundings in Zinave.

Rewilding initiatives and enhanced landscape connectivity have allowed numerous species to roam across borders, benefiting from increased range and population strength, thereby creating wildlife economies and community benefit-sharing opportunities.

As Peace Parks celebrates a quarter of a century of existence and Zinave its golden jubilee, we’re marking a significant milestone with the successful rewilding of rhinos as a flagship species. This accomplishment signals that through public private partnerships, the future of protected areas in Africa is very bright.

Werner Myburgh, CEO of Peace Parks Foundation

In addition to actively introducing species such as elephant, buffalo and leopard, the natural return of lion after decades demonstrates the park’s intrinsic rewilding success. Together with the reintroduction of rhino, this achievement re-establishes the Big Five, a celebrated indicator of ecosystem health, balance, and complexity, elevating Zinave as a world-class tourism destination.

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