Following 11 months of preparation and planning, 16 critically endangered Black rhinos have been successfully captured, translocated, dehorned and released into the Kingdom of eSwatini (formerly Swaziland).
The rhinos include adult breeding bulls and cows, young adults and calves from a private game reserve in South Africa, where the cost of protecting them from poachers was rapidly becoming unsustainable. Once dehorned, they were released in eSwatini.
“Many delays were experienced… especially with respect to the bureaucratic nightmare of issuance and re-issuance of permits,” said Ted Reilly, CE of Big Game Parks, eSwatini’s national wildlife authority.
About 5 000 Black rhinos remained globally, the authority said, and about 20 000 were left of all species. About 80% live in South Africa, but the country has lost over 8 000 rhinos to poaching since 2008, according to Big Game Parks.
Landlocked between South Africa and Mozambique, eSwatini was much safer and had lost just three rhinos in the past 26 years, the statement said.
Nevertheless, anti-poaching measures had been stepped up since the Black rhinos arrived, said Big Game Parks. The rhinos are being monitored closely to ensure that any problems are quickly identified. The animals have found water and have settled in to their new home.