The Government of Zimbabwe through the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority is sending 10 white rhinos to the Democratic Republic of Congo to enhance its rhino regional conservation program.
According to IUCN Rhino Specialist Group, 98% of the world`s white rhino population is in South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Kenya.
The move is adhering to local and international wildlife translocation protocols, particularly IUCN rhino pre-translocation guidelines and the African Rhino Range States’ African Rhino Conservation Plan.
The African Rhino Conservation Plan is designed to secure viable, growing, and valued rhino populations across the African landscape with a goal of ensuring that continental rhino numbers increase by the end of 2020.
Some of the reasons for the relocation of there rhinos include:
Contribution to African Rhino Range States’
African Rhino Conservation Plan through Expanding the Rhino Range Area.
The exercise is reportedly a deliberate effort to enhance the security and genetic proliferation of the species at a regional level.
Zimbabwe’s Rhino Conservation: Zimbabwe is one of the most important rhino range countries in the world and has seen steady population growth of both white and black rhinos. In the recent past, Zimbabwe has been instrumental in repopulating new and rehabilitated former range areas such as the Okavango Delta in Botswana. Eight black rhinos were sent to the Okavango Delta in 2016 as part of the 20 country to country rhino donation to Botswana.
Poaching and Security Status of Rhinos In the DRC: The Zimbabwean Government is aware that the DRC lost its Northern white rhino population to extinction largely due to poaching. However, for this exercise, a management and scientific assessment of the security and law enforcement status and potential biological proliferation of the rhinos was done to inform the translocation requirements. Since the Northern white rhino went extinct in the DRC, there are no fears of gene dilution with the rhinos intended to be translocated from Zimbabwe which are Southern white rhinos. The Zimbabwean Government was confident that the pre and post-translocation conditions in the DRC met the requisite standards for a successful re-establishment of rhinos in that country.
Sources of the Rhinos: The 10 rhinos are being translocated from three different sources; Lake Chivero, Kyle Recreational Parks and Matopo National Park. Rhinos at Lake Chivero and Kyle have reached near ecological carrying capacity and the translocation is approved through National Rhino Conservation and Management Strategy. But is this the most efficient way to protect the future of the rhino species?