Translocating wild animals requires months of planning and meticulous execution, but when a historic journey sees the translocation of 19 near-threatened white rhinos across international borders, the challenge is that much greater.
This week on Peace Parks TV, we are following one of the most remarkable rhino translocations ever undertaken where 19 white rhinos are making the historic journey from South Africa to Zinave National Park in Mozambique.
Decades of poaching drove both species of black and white rhinos to local extinction more than 40 years ago. Now, Zinave, which is co-managed between Mozambique’s National Administration for Conservation Areas (ANAC) and Peace Parks Foundation, in collaboration with Exxaro Resources, is spearheading this incredible translocation project. This will reintroduce the first founder population of white rhino in a national park in Mozambique in over four decades and see Zinave become the country’s first Big 5 national park.
But there’s a long journey ahead before the rhino can settle into their new home. Back in South Africa, a team of specialists from Conservation Solutions and Mozambique Wildlife Alliance helped to load the rhino into crates, which were then loaded onto trucks that would safely carry them all the way to Mozambique. The travel is slow-going, so wildlife vets constantly check up on the health of the animals.
The challenges weren’t over quite yet as the team finally makes their way to the border post. One of the biggest risks to wildlife during any translocation in Africa, is the border crossings which tend to be a long and laborious process. Any additional time that the animals spend in the crates, further endangers their health and increases stress levels. Thanks to important preparation done months in advance, Les Carlisle and his team manage to get the convoy through the border in less than two hours – an incredible achievement!
After a long and gruelling journey for both the transport team and the rhinos, the trucks arrive in Maputo National Park. Here, the animals are offloaded into specially constructed holding facilities, or bomas, where they have space to roam and feed for the next couple of days. During this time, their condition is constantly monitored to ensure they are fit and healthy to undergo the last leg of the journey, which will see them settle into their new home in Zinave.
The translocation is an exceptional collaboration between Exxaro Resources, Mozambique’s National Administration for Conservation Areas (ANAC) and Peace Parks Foundation, with support from South Africa’s Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE), the Mozambique Ministry of Land and the Environment, with additional funding provided by the German Postcode Lottery and MAVA Foundation.
Watch Peace Parks TV tomorrow as the rhinos finally complete their historic journey!