Around 20 critically endangered black rhinos are returning to Rwanda, 10 years after the species was wiped out by poaching.
In the 1970s more than 50 black rhinos flourished in Rwanda. However poaching decimated the population which lead to the last ever sighting of an East African black rhino in 2007.
East African black rhinos are in critical danger of extinction, with only around 1,000 in the wild, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The founder population of black rhinos are being relocated from South Africa to Akagera National Park. Akagera is a protected savannah habitat and has been managed by African Parks and the Rwanda Development Board. African Parks is a non-profit group which manages protected areas for African governments, including Rwanda.
Since 2010 African Parks has boosted security at Akagera and has prepared to accept the rhinos with financial help from the Howard Buffett Foundation, headed by the son of US billionaire Warren Buffett.
Security measures include deploying a helicopter for air surveillance and an expert rhino tracking and protection team as well as a canine anti-poaching unit.
“Rhinos are one of the great symbols of Africa, yet they are severely threatened and are on the decline in many places across the continent due to the . . . illegal rhino horn trade,” African Parks CEO Peter Fearnhead said in a statement. “The rhino’s return to this country, however, is a testament to Rwanda’s extraordinary commitment to conservation and is another milestone in the restoration of Akagera’s natural diversity.”
In 2015, Rwanda reintroduced lions in the Akagera park, 15 years after they had disappeared. The lions were decimated in the years after Rwanda’s genocide in 1994 as Rwandans who had fled the slaughter returned and occupied the park killing the lions to protect their livestock.
With the reintroduction of the rhinos, Akagera, which welcomed more than 36,000 visitors last year, will now boast being home to Africa’s “big five” – rhino, lion, elephant, leopard and buffalo.
If you would like to know more about this project please visit https://www.rhinomove.org/