Johannesburg, South Africa: African Parks announced the update on Friday the 4thof May that six black rhinoceroses translocated from South Africa arrived safely in Zakouma National Park in Chad, hailing the return of the species to the country after almost half a century of its absence. The successful translocation results from an unprecedented collaboration between the South African and Chadian Governments, SANParks and African Parks to restore biodiversity to Chad and improve the long-term conservation of the critically endangered species on the continent. African Parks assumed management of Zakouma National Park in partnership with the Government of the Republic of Chad in 2010, transforming the park in to a secure sanctuary through the implementation of robust law enforcement and extensive community programmes, with specific security measures in place for the reintroduction of rhinoceros. The arrival of the six black rhinos on Friday morning establishes Chad as a new range state for the species, providing a valuable opportunity to expand its distribution in Africa, while contributing to the restoration of Zakouma’s natural system and its role in socio-economic development.
The Governments of South Africa and Chad signed a memorandum of understanding in October 2017 to reintroduce six black rhinos to Zakouma National Park in southern Chad. Two years of extensive preparation to ensure the welfare of the animals culminated in the loading of the rhinos in Addo Elephant National Park and their departure from South Africa’s Port Elizabeth Airport on Thursday the 3rdof May, and finally their safe arrival in Zakouma on Friday morning following a 3,000-mile cross continent translocation. Having been attended by a team of experienced vets and other experts for the duration of the journey, the rhinos remain in good condition and were released into purposely constructed enclosures for a period of close monitoring and acclimatisation. In the coming days and weeks, the rhinos will be released into an intensively protected sanctuary in the park, ensuring a healthy transition to their new surroundings.
“The rhinoceros has survived on this planet for millennia, but with fewer than 25,000 remaining due to the insatiable demand for their horns, they are more affiliated with extinction than survival.” Said Peter Fearnhead, CEO of African Parks “Through our partnership with the Government of Chad we have been able to restore security to Zakouma, creating an opportunity to re-establish a Central African population of the species in a secure and functioning park. Today’s reintroduction is an important contribution to the long-term conservation of rhinos in Africa, and also to the enrichment of Chad’s natural heritage”.
Extensive law enforcement measures and community programmes have been implemented in Zakouma since African Parks assumed management in 2010, resulting in the effective elimination of poaching and the recovery of wildlife populations. Today, Zakouma has become a safe haven for some of the most important wildlife populations in the region, and its elephant population is growing for the first time in over a decade. Security measures have been implemented specifically to ensure the ongoing protection and wellbeing of the rhinos in the park. A dedicated rhino ranger unit which received advanced training has been established, and aerial surveillance and numerous other security measures have been implemented for the reintroduction of rhino. These efforts are a reflection of the Chadian Government’s commitment to conserving its parks and wildlife, and are possible because of the support of the European Union.
“We are resolved to create a secure and prosperous future for wildlife and people, so that generations of Chadians can experience the benefits of healthy and intact natural landscapes. It is a mark of the strength of our partnership with African Parks and the transformation of Zakouma in to a secure sanctuary that we are now able to bring rhinos back to Chad where they will receive enduring protection.” Chad’s Ambassador to South Africa Sagour Youssouf Mahamat Itno had said. “Their reintroduction signifies an important advancement in the restoration of the park, furthering its potential as a conservation area to contribute through tourism to local economies and social development”.