30 South African rhinos were translocated to the Akagera National Park in Rwanda; the African Parks team is celebrating the birth of several calves for World Rhino Day.
Rwanda (22 September 2022) – November 2021 marked the largest-ever translocation of white rhinos from South Africa to Rwanda. Since then, the 30 rhinos have settled in well, and today, on World Rhino Day, the teams involved are celebrating the birth of several white rhino calves.
The rhinos were introduced to Akagera National Park, sourced from &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve in South Africa. The translocation was carried out through a collaboration between the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), African Parks and &Beyond, with funding provided by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. The birth of the calves is an important step towards establishing Akagera as a key rhino breeding stronghold.
“Less than a year on from the translocation, the rhino population in Akagera is thriving,” said, Conservation and Research Manager, Drew Bantlin.
“The condition of the rhinos has improved and they have established themselves in parts of the park with good grass and ample water. Successful births show that the female rhinos are finding enough nutrition to support milk production and the new calves are growing and healthy and starting to move widely with their mothers.”
You can watch the video of the translocation below.
This historic initiative was aimed at extending the white rhino range and creating a secure new breeding stronghold in Rwanda, supporting population growth to ensure the long-term survival of the species in the wild as high-levels of poaching continue to exert unsustainable pressure on current populations. The aim of the translocation was also to help enhance Akagera’s contribution to Rwanda’s wildlife economy, ensuring that the conservation of their outstanding natural landscapes generates long-term benefits for local communities that live adjacent to the park and all Rwandans.
“The reintroduction of this species has not only had a positive effect on conservation, but also provided an additional benefit to visitors and the wellbeing of the local communities. Akagera has become a major wildlife destination, this year we’ve achieved a record number of visitors, returning the park’s income to pre-covid-19 levels. At a community level, this has allowed creation of new jobs and increased income which has further increased the park’s contribution to the Rwanda Social Security Fund, Special Guarantee Fund, and community initiatives,” says. Ladis Ndahiriwe, Akagera’s Park Manager.
In 2010, the Rwanda Development Board and African Parks partnered to manage Akagera, transforming the park into one of the most coveted wildlife destinations in Africa and a sustainable revenue source for the region’s communities. Law enforcement was overhauled and robust community programs put in place, allowing for wildlife to increase and for key reintroductions to occur, such as lions in 2015 and black rhinos in 2017 and 2019.
To ensure that this new population of white rhinos also flourishes, each rhino has been fitted with a transmitter to enable constant monitoring by dedicated tracking teams; a canine anti-poaching unit and helicopter surveillance are also in place to provide further support for their long-term protection.
White rhinos are classified as near threatened with numbers declining across existing strongholds, largely due to poaching driven by demand for their horns. The introduction of southern white rhinos to Akagera expands their range to offer more safe areas for the species.