As the sun rises over Manketti Game Reserve in South Africa, the still morning air is filled with hushed whispers and palpable nervous energy. Today is no ordinary day for the experienced wildlife veterinarians and their teams, as they have been given the green light to prepare the seven black rhinos for their journey from South Africa to Zinave National Park in Mozambique.

These critically endangered animals have spent the last couple of months in temporary holding facilities, or bomas, under the incredible care of rhino behavioural specialist Jennifer Conaghan. The rhinos have been kept in these bomas to help them regain condition after what can be a stressful capture operation. This ensures that they are in the best possible form for the long translocation journey ahead.

This historic journey, the longest rhino translocation by road ever attempted, will see these megaherbivores become the first breeding population of black rhino in Zinave National Park in four decades. With so few of them left on the planet, only the best translocation crew can take this on.

Steady hands are needed to dart the rhinos and thankfully, an experienced team is there to handle the challenge. Soon, the animals are all darted and loaded into the crates, which are lifted onto the trucks that will take them to their new home. To ensure their safety along the journey, the rhino’s horns are tipped, meaning the horn is shortened to avoid it breaking off in the crate. The horn is then bagged and taken to a secure facility by a security team.

Once the crates are securely loaded, the trucks make their way out of Manketti, and the crew prepares for the long travels ahead. This will not only make translocation history but will reintroduce a species that has been missing from the park for more than four decades, restoring this unique area’s natural heritage.