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By Citizen Reporter


Four endangered black rhinos moved to increase their habitat

The animals were relocated in order to preserve the genetics of the Weenen and Ithala black rhino population.

In mid-April, four black rhino bulls were translocated from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s Weenen Nature Reserve and Ithala Game Reserve to Bonamanzi Game Reserve in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

The successful move, made possible by funding from the Black Rhino Range Expansion Project, was carried out by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Heligistix and Wildlife ACT.

The aim of the project is for Ezemvelo to partner with private and communal landowners to increase the habitat available to black rhinos.

Under the terms of the agreement, Ezemvelo provides the rhinos, while the receiving property is responsible for their care and custodianship.

Four black rhinos were specifically selected for the relocation in accordance with thorough assessment criteria.

Having reached maturity, these animals were relocated in order to preserve the genetics of the Weenen and Ithala black rhino population, as well as to prevent conflict between the bulls.

“Weenen has a very specific black rhino breeding programme,” said Bonamanzi manager Frik Lemmer.

“We have a resident breeding bull on Weenen and that animal should not be challenged in any way by other bulls on a property this size. It could lead to fighting, breakouts and even the possible death of one of the animals.”

The relocation will also further promote the expansion of black rhino breeding opportunities in KwaZulu-Natal. The other aim is to increase the species’ range and ultimately promote the growth of the population.

“Black rhinos are very much at risk, which is why the breeding of these animals at smaller reserves like Weenen Nature Reserve is an important part of the population dynamic and the conservation of the species,” said Lemmer.

WWF’s Black Rhino Expansion Project has successfully created 13 new black rhino populations in SA since beginning in 2003.

Led by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s Game Capture Unit, including their veterinary team, the black rhinos were darted, dehorned, and loaded into large crates.

The unit transported them safely on trucks to their new home. The move marks an exciting first for Bonamanzi Game Reserve, with these bulls being their first black rhinos.

Prior to releasing the rhinos into their new home, Wildlife ACT – specialising in threatened species monitoring and conservation – fitted each individual with tracking devices to ensure constant monitoring.

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