The largest ever transport of rhinos from Europe to Africa
Rwanda’s commitment to protecting and investing in its National Parks is phenomenal. The annual Kwita Izina gorilla naming ceremony is one example of that.
“On Sunday June 23, five critically endangered Eastern Black Rhinoceroses, born and bred in European zoo environments, were flown 6,000 km to Akagera National Park in Rwanda. Was the largest ever translocation of rhinos from Europe to Africa.
This historic journey began at Safari Park Dvůr Králové (Czech Republic) where all five animals have been gathered since November 2018.
Their journey began years ago, through EAZA’s vision to supplement wild populations in secure parks in Africa with genetically-robust individuals who have been successfully bred and cared for over the years by the EAZA Ex Situ Programme (EEP).
This was a unique collaboration between the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), the Government of Rwanda and conservation NGO African Parks.
Fewer than 5,000 wild black rhinos and only 1,000 Eastern Black Rhinos remain in Africa; and their future is severely threatened by poaching for the illegal demand for their horns. This translocation project represents an urgent and valuable opportunity to expand the range and protection of the black rhino, and demonstrate how captive rhinos can help supplement and repopulate wild populations within secure landscapes.
Three female and two male black rhinos, ranging between two to nine years old, were chosen. Jasiri, Jasmina and Manny were born in Safari Park Dvůr Králové (Czech Republic); Olmoti comes from Flamingo Land (United Kingdom) and Mandela is from Ree Park Safari (Denmark). The rhinos were donated to the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), the government body that manages Akagera National Park, the rhino’s new home in Rwanda, in partnership with African Parks.
All five rhinos underwent months of sensitisation to prepare them and minimise stress to ensure the safest journey possible. During the voyage, which was approximately 30 hours long, they will be inside custom-made crates, and fed and watered regularly. Experienced zookeepers from the Safari Park Dvůr Králové as well as veterinarian Dr. Pete Morkel, a world expert in rhino translocations, accompaned and monitored the rhinos throughout the entire trip, as well as their release into the Park.
“By undertaking a highly supervised and well-planned gradual acclimation process, we believe these rhinos will adapt well to their new environment in Rwanda. They will first be kept in bomas – enclosures made by wooden poles. Later, they will enjoy larger enclosures in a specially protected area. The final step will be to release them into the northern part of the national park where they will roam free,“ said Přemysl Rabas, Director of Safari Park Dvůr Králové.