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Good InfoThe First of 2,000 Privately Owned White Rhinos Get New Home –...

The First of 2,000 Privately Owned White Rhinos Get New Home – Rewilded by South African Conservancy

3 of the 2,000 southern white rhinos auctioned – Credit: Platinum Rhino

An ambitious plan to rewild 2,000 southern white rhino into secure protected areas in Africa over the next 10 years has officially begun, with 40 of these majestic beasts on their way to a new home at the Munywana Conservancy in Zululand, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

It’s the first relocation of a continent-wide effort organized by African Parks called ‘Rhino Rewild, and follows the recent acquisition of 2,000 southern white rhino that had been privately owned by a multi-millionaire who dreamed of keeping them in a preserve for the purpose of harvesting their horns to flood the illegal rhino horn trade and crash the price to disincentivize poaching.

Their new home, Munywana Conservancy has a historic foundation: in 2007, over 20,000 acres of land were returned to its ancestral owners, the Makhasa and Mnqobokazi communities as part of South Africa’s land restitution process.

Both communities requested that the land continue to be kept under conservation. Through this legacy, the Munywana Conservancy, now a 79,000-acre (29,866-hectare) reserve, is upheld through a collaboration of community and private landowners.

“We are extremely pleased to receive these 40 rhino from African Parks, to supplement the current population of white rhino at our community conservancy,” said Thokozani Mlambo, Chairperson of the Makhasa Trust, one of the three primary shareholders of the Munywana Conservancy.

“We see this as recognition of the important role that community-owned land plays in conservation, and we are proud to be collaborating in such a significant partnership to rewild rhino across our continent.”

Millionaire breeder John Hume of South Africa was unable to continue financing his venture, when, after years of litigation, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) remained adamant that they would not grant him an exception for the sale of rhino horn—banned as it has been since 1974, and so facing bankruptcy, Hume put all the animals up for auction in April.

Hume’s 2,000 rhino were approximately 15% of the remaining wild population of southern white rhino.

The white rhino as a species is under extreme pressure due to poaching and habitat loss, and hence the need for well-protected areas for them to thrive. While southern white rhino reached an all-time low of between 30 to 40 animals in the 1930s, effective conservation measures increased the population to approximately 20,000 individuals by 2012.

These mega-herbivores are important in shaping savannahs, which store approximately 30% of the world’s terrestrial carbon. Where rhino are present, there is an increase in both flora and fauna; and thriving wild rhino populations are indicators of ecosystem renewal.

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The Munywana Conservancy offers a secure environment to support the rewilding of these animals. With this move, Munywana’s current rhino population will be bolstered, enhancing genetic diversity, aiding future rhino translocations to other locations, and supporting tourism—a key driver of the local economy.

“On behalf of the government of South Africa, we were very supportive of African Parks’ plan to purchase and rewild these rhino and remain a key partner in providing technical and scientific advice and the support needed to carry out this conservation solution in South Africa and on the African continent,” said Ms. Barbara Creecy, the South African Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment.

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To achieve a successful outcome of this translocation, the animals’ body condition and parasite adaptation will be closely monitored as they adjust to their new environment. In addition, the conservancy will implement intensive security measures to ensure the safety of the 40 dehorned rhino.

“We believe that both African Parks and the Munywana have the same ethos and guiding principles when it comes to conservation, and in that spirit the Munywana has gladly accepted this donation, enabling these rhino to commence the process of becoming fully wild and free-roaming,” said Dale Wepener, Munywana Warden & Conservation Manager.

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The funding for the translocation was provided by the ever-stalwart Aspinall Foundation, with additional help from The Wildlife Emergency Fund.

“We recognize the magnitude and logistical feat of moving 2,000 rhino. This is just the beginning of a long-term partnership with African Parks where we can play our part in making a tangible contribution to the future of the southern white rhino in Africa,” said Damian Aspinall, chairman of WeWild Africa.

SHARE This First Step Of A Long Journey Towards A Wilder Africa…


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