SIX BLACK RHINO FOR CHAD
They’ll be there on a shared ownership or agreed custodian basis – with SANParks providing the necessary support
PLANS announced earlier this year by Chad conservationists to reintroduce critically endangered black rhinos to Zakouma National Park in Chad, after this rare species was last seen there more than four decades ago, will finally see the light of day. This comes after a deal concluded on September 29 between Environment Minister Edna Molewa and her Chad counterpart Ahmat Mbodou Mahamat.
The move will make Chad the closest place to Europe for visitors to see Africa’s Big Five.
Six black rhino will transfer from SA to Chad “on a shared ownership or agreed custodian basis with SANParks providing the necessary support” Molewa said, as poaching further threatens the rhinoceros population in the country.
Zakouma National Park is already home to one of Africa’s largest herds of elephants, more than 130 lions, thousands of buffalo and an unknown number of leopards. The last time a rhino was spotted in Zakouma, however, was in 1972 and there were none left in the country by 1990.
The western black rhino, the subspecies that used to roam across Chad, Cameroon, the Central African Republic and Sudan, was officially declared inactive in 2011 after it emerged that tracks reportedly discovered in Cameroon in 2004 had been faked by wildlife rangers in a bid to save their jobs.
In fact, the last time a rhino was spotted in Chad was in 1972 and there were none left in the country by 1990, the official documents Chad submitted to environmental affairs said.
The animals should be airlifted to Chad’s Zakouma National Park “sometime next year. We are looking at around March, April or May,” environmental affairs ministry spokesperson Albi Modise said.
Black rhino are officially listed as critically endangered but are still native to the mainly eastern and southern African countries of Angola, Kenya, Mozam- bique, Namibia, SA, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. They have been reintroduced to other countries in the region.
There are around 5000 black rhino left in Africa with South Africa’s population sitting at 1893, the International Union for Conservation of Nature said.
SA is also home to about 20 000 white rhino, about 80% of the worldwide population but it has suffered record poaching in recent years – from 13 in 2013 to more than a 1 000 killed last year alone.
However, in February this year, the Department for Environmental Affairs’ poaching statistics showed a 10.3% decline in rhino poaching last year, as compared with the previous year.
In Africa, poachers have killed more than 7100 rhinos over the past decade for their horns, which is mainly used in traditional Chinese medicine but more commonly now as a status symbol displaying one’s success and wealth.
However, in 2011 the Education for Nature-Vietnam (ENV) launched an online campaign to dispel the notion that rhino horn is a remedy for cancer following a denouncement by the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine and the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine among others.
ENDANGERED: Black rhinos are being reintroduced to the Zakouma National Park as part of a scheme to enhance the survival of the animals and to offer visitors the rare opportunity to see Africa’s Big Five.