On a recent translocation project that would see Zinave National Park become the first Big 5 national park in Mozambique, all hands are on deck as a team of specialists are preparing themselves for an important day ahead. Today, the capture operation begins and the team will aim to catch 19 rhinos over a period of four days. After spending a few weeks in holding facilities, they will then be moved from South Africa across the border into Mozambique, where they will have a brief stop-over in Maputo National Park before heading to their final destination in Zinave.

As dawn breaks, the rising sun casts a magnificent orange glow across the landscape, setting the scene for a day to be remembered! The 19, now empty, specially made crates designed by the team at Conservation Solutions will soon be loaded with white rhinos, some weighing up to 2.6 tonnes. These huge crates are tailormade according to the size of the rhino, with smaller ones constructed for the calves and larger, more sturdy ones built for the mighty bulls.

It’s not long until the vehicles are fired up and slowly proceed to the capture location for the darting operation to begin. Steady hands are needed but thankfully a team of experienced wildlife vets are there to handle the challenge. The weight of the rhinos determines the dose of tranquiliser needed, so the darts are carefully prepared beforehand. The animals are darted from a helicopter that then guides the ground crew to rhino’s location. It’s all hands on deck though, as walking a half-awake giant into a small crate is no easy task!

It’s not long before the once empty bomas are now filled with one of Africa’s most incredible and, unfortunately, threatened members of the Big 5. Due to the high risk of this operation, a full security team is on location to keep guard while the settle before their journey to Mozambique.

This landmark and pioneering rewilding initiative, the first in a series of white and black rhino translocations still to follow, is the result of a partnership between Mozambique’s National Administration for Conservation Areas, Peace Parks Foundation and Exxaro Resources, in support of and in collaboration with the governments of Mozambique and South Africa.

We are incredibly grateful to Conservation Solutions, Mozambique Wildlife Alliance, and everyone involved for making this process as seamless as one could want.

Translocations like these provide the opportunity to move endangered species, such as rhino, to well-protected areas like Zinave National Park. This is essential to giving populations a chance to grow, which secures their survival.  

Be sure to stay tuned to Peace Parks TV tomorrow as the trucks successfully cross the border to Maputo National Park.

Watch Part 1 here: https://www.peaceparkstv.com/peace-parks-most-ambitious-project