10 South African Black Rhinos Safely Relocated To National Park In Rwanda!
Following Monday’s tragic news about the closing of The Fundimvelo Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage (FTTRO) in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, after being brutally attacked in February, comes some positive developments in the fight to save rhinos from poachers.
Media outlets, including AllAfrica.com, have been touting the terrific news that 10 huge black rhinos were airlifted on Tuesday from South Africa to safety at Rwanda’s Akagera National Park; a protected savannah habitat.
Marking what South African High Commissioner George Nkosinati Twala declared “a fantastic day for the country,” the move officially reinstated it as a Big Five nation.
Originally dubbed the Big Five, because the lion, elephant, buffalo, rhinoceros, and leopard were the most dangerous animals to hunt on foot, the name stuck, according to SouthAfrica.net, which proudly maintains that the only “shooting” that takes place now “is done through a camera lens.”
The relocation is the result of the Rwanda Development Board’s (RDB) collaboration with African Parks, a conservation agency responsible for protecting the area on behalf of governments across Africa.
Claire Akamanzi, the CEO of RDB said that the rhinos return “opens a new chapter in our conservation journey and we are grateful to all our partners that contributed to this achievement.”
Under the arrangement funded by The Howard G. Buffett Foundation, 20 rhinos in total will call Akagera National Park their new home.
“Several years ago, as we were struggling to have success combating rhino poaching in other parts of Africa, I made a commitment to President Kagame that we would support the reintroduction of rhinos in Rwanda because we knew this country would protect them,” said Howard G. Buffett, Chairman and CEO of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. “Today marks another milestone in Rwanda’s emerging leadership on the continent in conservation, eco-tourism and most importantly, good governance.”
“Rhinos are one of the greatest symbols of Africa, yet they are severely threatened and are on the decline in many places across the continent due to the extremely lucrative and illegal rhino horn trade,” said African Parks CEO Peter Fearnhead in a statement as reported by ABC News. “The rhino’s return to this country, however, is a testament to Rwanda’s extraordinary commitment to conservation and is another milestone in the restoration of Akagera’s natural diversity.”
Akagera’s security upgrade includes an expertly trained rhino tracking and protection team, a canine anti-poaching unit, and the deployment of a helicopter for critical air surveillance to enhance protection of the park; all funded by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.
The welcome new additions to the park joined seven lions that were reintroduced to the same park in 2015.
Tragically, only an estimated 1,000 Black Eastern Rhinos currently remain in the wild.