KZN white rhinos get new home in DRC’s Garamba National Park

Sixteen southern white rhinos have been safely transported to Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In a ground-breaking effort to restore the ecological balance of one of Africa’s oldest national parks, 16 southern white rhinos have been introduced to Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), from Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve in South Africa.

The translocation was achieved through a collaboration with the Institut Congolaispour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN), African Parks and & Beyond.

It was sponsored by the Barrick Gold Corporation which has undertaken to support the project over the next few years.

The translocation forms part of a larger conservation initiative in the Garamba Complex to restore the full richness of the megaherbivore complement in the park after the last northern white rhino was poached in 2006 and has since become functionally extinct as a sub-species.

White rhinos  

Introducing southern white rhinos to this area will enhance the park’s contribution to the DRC’s wildlife economy, ensuring that the conservation of the nation’s outstanding natural landscapes generates long-term benefits for local communities and all Congolese.

ICCN director-general Milan Ngangay Yves said: “The return of white rhinos to the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a testament to our country’s commitment to biodiversity conservation.

“As Garamba is poised to become a globally important sanctuary for megaherbivores, introducing southern white rhino to the country is an important step in advancing our contribution to rhino conservation in Africa.

“We are grateful to our conservation partners who play a significant role in supporting us in fulfilling our objectives and promoting sustainable, transformational and equitable socio-economic growth.”

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The 16 rhinos were sourced from Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal in the Mun-Ya-Wana Conservancy. They were airlifted in two moves to Barrick’s Kibali Mine airstrip in north-eastern DRC and trucked to Garamba.

The reintroduction is part of the overall strategy to promote the long-term conservation of white rhinos in Africa by extending their range and creating new breeding nodes for the species in secure areas. Professional staff and a qualified veterinarian will oversee their acclimatisation in Garamba

African Parks’ CEO Peter Fearnhead said “Efforts to save the northern white rhino was a case of ‘too little, too late’ and should never be allowed to happen again.

Safe location

“Now that Garamba is a safe location and has proper protection in place, this reintroduction is the start of a process where southern white rhino – as the closest genetic alternative – can fulfil the role of the northern white rhino in the landscape.

“We are thankful to our partners for making this translocation possible: the government home for white rhinos of the Democratic Republic of the Congo for its visionary conservation leadership, the local communities for their support and eagerness to protect this iconic species, Barrick Gold Corporation for funding the project and their technical support in executing it and beyond for providing the founder population of rhinos”


Initially considered extinct in the late 19th century, a small population of fewer than 100 southern white rhinos was discovered in KwaZulu-Natal in 1895.

Through dedicated conservation efforts spanning a century, the population has grown, reaching between 19 600 and 21 000 living in protected areas and private game reserves, predominantly in South Africa.

Today, they are classified as near-threatened on the IUCN Red List. However, there has been a renewed decline in the white rhino population because of poaching, with the current population estimated at over 15 000.


The move to Garamba aims to repopulate areas where rhinos have become locally extinct and stablish healthy populations in secure locations. This endeavour holds promise for the species’ long-term viability in the DRC.

Beyond Phinda conservation manager Dale Wepener said: “Conservation translocations have been proven to be a critical tool in securing the survival of endangered species such as the rhino. Our long-term vision is protecting black and white rhino.

“Creating new habitats and ranges is something that Beyond has been doing for a while, especially through our history of moving rhinos from Phinda to other parts of southern Africa. We believe this latest conservation translocation and introduction is a way of protecting the species by creating a new, safe and secure habitat for the species.”


Mark Bristow, president and CEO of Barrick Gold Corporation, said: “Sponsorship of this translocation stems from our 10-yearpartnership with African Parks and investment in the conservation of Garamba National Park.

“Biodiversity underpins many ecosystem services on which our mines and surrounding communities depend. Being able to play a role in protecting biodiversity and preventing nature loss is central to what we do,” he said.

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