One of the most remarkable rhino translocations ever undertaken recently saw 19 near-threatened white rhino make the historic journey from South Africa to Zinave National Park in Mozambique. This was because Exxaro Resources joined forces with Peace Parks Foundation and Mozambique’s National Administration for Conservation Areas (ANAC), a partnership that would see the impossible made possible.
This ambitious translocation would see the first founder population of white rhino in a Mozambican national park in 40 years. Not only this, but the reintroduction of this keystone species into Zinave will make it the first ‘Big 5’ national park in Mozambique.
But a rhino translocation of this scale requires teamwork and luckily Exxaro Resources, Mozambique’s National Administration for Conservation Areas (ANAC) and Peace Parks Foundation, worked alongside specialists that were not only the best in their fields, but were brave enough to do what has never been done before.
The operation required months of preparation, starting with constructing temporary holding facilities, or bomas – large enclosures which provide a safe haven for the animals. Once the bomas have been constructed, the teams get to work in locating, darting and moving the rhino into the bomas, where they will spend the next couple of weeks. This is to prepare them for the long journey ahead, which entails a brief stop-over in Maputo National Park before arriving in Zinave.
After the rhino have spent a couple of weeks in the boma under the dedicated care of Jennifer Conaghan, who assisted with making sure the rhinos were eating and adapting well to their new environment, the time has come for them to be translocated to their new home which offers them a safe and protected environment to thrive.
Due to the relentless demand for its horn, rhino populations have plummeted in all nine remaining rhino range states in Africa since 2008. It’s not unusual then that front of mind for all involved was the safety of the rhino once they were released in Zinave. Thanks to enhanced management by Peace Parks Foundation and Mozambique’s National Administration for Conservation Areas (ANAC), with support from Exxaro Resources, the park has seen increased protection efforts, improved security infrastructure and specialised counter-poaching initiatives to ensure their safety.
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 also recognise the significant contributions made by Conservation Solutions and the Mozambique Wildlife Alliance, with funding support from the German Postcode Lottery and MAVA Foundation, as without them, this would not have been possible.
Make sure to stay tuned to Peace Parks TV as we continue to follow along, and learn more, about this historic rhino translocation!