Black Rhinos Return to Chad 50 Years After Being Wiped Out
Six black rhinos were airlifted Thursday from South Africa to Zakouma National Park in Chad, a journey of more than 3,000 miles.
According to the WWF, black rhino numbers dramatically dropped 98 percent between 1960-1995 mainly due to human appetite for their distinctive horns. There are around 5,400 today. Much of its population is in South Africa, which is home to about 2,000 of the pachyderms.
Reuters reported that the two bulls and four cows were sedated and confined in special crates to ensure they do not cause an in-flight commotion. Once the mammals are settled, the hope is that they establish a breeding herd.
The conservation initiative came after the governments of South Africa and Chad signed a memorandum of understanding in October 2017 to enable the translocation of the rhinos. The aim is to aid the long-term survival of this critically endangered animal.
According to the campaign website, "this is a hopeful story about the revival of a highly threatened species, as well as the trajectory of Zakouma—a park that was once ravaged by poaching and insecurity but has been transformed into a secure and flourishing park since 2010."
Zakouma National Park is managed by the non-government organization African Parks in partnership with the government of Chad.
"Usually headlines on rhinos are about their demise; today it is about their brighter future," said African Parks CEO Peter Fearnhead in a statement.
African Parks has successfully translocated the animals before, including 18 black rhinos to Akagera National Park in Rwanda in 2017. The organization also reintroduced black rhinos to Majete Wildlife Reserve in Malawi in 2003.