The perilous 1,000-mile journey to save Africa’s endangered black rhinos
28 Oct 2022
A total of 20 white and 7 black rhinos have been successfully translocated from South Africa to Zinave National Park in Mozambique through two of the longest road-transfers of rhinos ever done.
The landmark rewilding initiative, the first in a series of African rhino translocations still to follow over the next two to three years, is the result of a partnership between Mozambique’s National Administration for Conservation Areas (ANAC), Peace Parks Foundation and Exxaro Resources, in support of and in collaboration with the Governments of Mozambique and South Africa. The rhino were kindly donated by Exxaro, who has also made a significant contribution to the operational costs of the park, with additional funding provided by the De Beers Group, Geos Foundation, German Postcode Lottery, MAVA Foundation and various other private donors.
This reintroduction of rhino is a pinnacle point in a series of translocations that has seen more than 2 300 wild animals representing 15 different species brought back to Zinave as part of an extensive rewilding and restoration programme. Through their long-term co-management agreement that commenced in 2016, ANAC and Peace Parks has completely transformed the landscape – developing infrastructure and capacity, enhancing conservation management and security, and creating concrete opportunities for communities to derive real benefits from conservation. As the only ‘big five’ national park in the country, home to a booming wildlife component of more than 5 000, the once ‘silent’ Zinave is emerging as a new and exciting eco-tourism destination. This will open doors for international investment and tourism development, which in turn will generate income to sustain park operations, whilst also giving back to the local communities who receive 20% of park revenues and directly benefit from additional job creation and a whole range of livelihoods opportunities now being realised. This speaks directly to core mission of Peace Parks to create a future for people and nature to co-exist.
Rhino are vital keystone species performing distinct and irreplaceable roles within ecosystems. Beyond its extinction in Mozambique, the black rhino suffered a radical decline across its entire native range, officially elevating the species to Critically Endangered status. The white rhino is classified on the IUCN red-list as Near Threatened, but their populations remain at high risk due to poaching. An important measure to preserve rhino for future generations is to reintroduce the species to safe havens such as Zinave where there is suitable habitat to home large viable breeding herds and where strong security and expert conservation management measures will set the stage for rhino numbers to grow.
By reintroducing wildlife to areas where the species once thrived, biodiversity is once again restored. This revitalisation and preservation of natural ecosystems is recognised as one of the most effective tools we have in mitigating climate change.