February 2014 – In a joint collaboration with the Botswana Government and Botswana Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Wilderness Safaris is thrilled to announce that a small group of Critically Endangered black rhino will be translocated from South Africa to northern Botswana in the first quarter of 2014. This follows the groundbreaking agreements reached with both the North West Parks and SANParks (South African National Parks) boards in February 2014 to each donate a number of black rhino to Botswana. (Please note that the actual figures are not mentioned to ensure the ongoing safety and security of the rhino.)
“All the stakeholders involved in this partnership are extremely pleased to announce this agreement, which has been years in the making. We are very confident that these animals will settle well and breed, given that the habitats available have been assessed as being perfect for black rhino,” says Wilderness Safaris Group Conservation Manager, Mr Kai Collins. He added that the project is confident of being allocated a further group of these critically threatened rhinos in the near future, bringing the breeding population to viable levels.
The Wilderness Botswana Rhino Project, an ongoing partnership between Wilderness Safaris and the Botswana Department of Wildlife and National Parks, was started in the year 2000 with the reintroduction of white rhino from southern Botswana into protected areas in the north of the country. Subsequent reintroductions of white rhino over the next five years increased the population substantially and the success of these rhino can be measured in the recruitment of calves born in the wild.
In 2003, a small group of south-central black rhino were introduced into the same area and a single calf was born in 2009. These highly threatened animals are known to have occurred in large numbers, possibly thousands in the mid-nineteenth century in the very area into which they have been introduced.
Thanks to extensive fundraising efforts in preparation for this event by the Wilderness Wildlife Trust, the capture process of these special rhino will take place in the first quarter of 2014. Once captured, the rhino will be transported by air and released into the wilds of Botswana a few weeks later. This is an extremely delicate operation which will involve the staff of North West and SANParks, the Botswana Defence Force, Department of Wildlife and National Parks Botswana and Wilderness Safaris.
“It will involve an extremely high level of security both during the operation, as well as after the release of the rhino, and we are extremely grateful for the ongoing support of our sponsors, such as the Wilderness Wildlife Trust, International Rhino Foundation, the Tiffany & Co. Foundation and RHINO FORCE to name a few, to ensure the ongoing success of this project”, Collins added.