Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa on Thursday (3 May 2018) witnessed the loading and departure of black rhino from the Addo Elephant National Park‚ Eastern Cape‚ to Chad‚ saying she had been assured they would be protected from poachers.
“By establishing a viable and secure rhino population of rhino in Chad‚ we are contributing to the expansion of the rhino population in Africa‚ and the survival of a species that has faced high levels of poaching for the past decade‚” she said.
Molewa signed an agreement with Chad in October 2017‚ making provision for the translocation of rhino.
Six rhino are being translocated to the Zakouma National Park that the Minister says has experienced a dramatic decrease in poaching since 2010‚ with the local elephant population increasing for the first time in more than a decade.
Chad was historically home to at least two rhinoceros species. The northern white rhinoceros (Ceretotherium simum cottoni) most likely occurred in areas that now form part of southern Chad.
The western black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis longipes) lived in Zakouma up to 1972 when the rhino became locally extinct because of poaching.
A team of experts from South Africa visited Chad in 2017 to assess the habitat‚ security and management suitability and associated ecological parameters‚ as well as infrastructural readiness prior to the translocation of black rhinos to Zakouma National Park from South Africa‚ the minister’s office said in a statement. The Republic of Chad earlier signed an agreement with African Parks Network (APN) which allows APN to manage the country’s national parks.
The agreement signed by Molewa established a bilateral custodianship arrangement between the two countries‚ “which means the rhino will be placed under the protective care of the Republic of Chad and that any calves born will belong to Chad‚ but can used to establish new rhino populations within the continent in line with the African Rhino Range States Conservation Plan‚” said Molewa.
In terms of the collaboration‚ the rhino were sourced and captured by SANParks in South Africa. Once translocated‚ African Parks will manage and protect the rhino in Zakouma National Park.
Although once geographically widespread‚ with black rhino being found in 28 African countries‚ these animals are now restricted to South Africa‚ Namibia‚ Zimbabwe‚ Tanzania and Kenya‚ while Zambia‚ Botswana and Malawi support small recently-established fledgling populations.
Establishing new populations of black rhino in former range states remains a priority of conservation plans to reduce environmental risk and provide conservation flagships‚ according to Molewa.
Black rhino have been translocated by SANParks to Botswana‚ Tanzania‚ Zambia‚ Malawi‚ Rwanda and white rhino have been moved to Botswana‚ Namibia‚ Zambia‚ and Mozambique. Rhino have also been translocated to Kenya and Swaziland by South Africa.