RWANDA TO SEE RHINOS FOR THE FIRST TIME IN A GENERATION
(Posted 02nd May 2017)
Twenty Eastern Black Rhinos are being prepared for translocation from South Africa to Rwanda over the space of the next two weeks according to confirmation received earlier today from both African Parks – the managers of Rwanda’s Akagera National Park – and the Rwanda Development Board.
The effort is supported by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, the Dutch Government and the People’s Postcode Lottery.
‘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 extremely lucrative and illegal rhino horn trade‘ said African Parks CEO Peter Fearnhead. ‘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‘.
Since 2010, African Parks has overhauled law enforcement in the park, reducing poaching to an all-time low in six years and today the park is flourishing. Seven lions were successfully reintroduced in 2015, whose population has since more than doubled. Security measures have been implemented specifically to ensure the safety and well-being of the rhinos once in the park. This includes an expertly-trained rhino tracking and protection team, a canine anti-poaching unit, and the deployment of a helicopter for critical air surveillance to enhance protection of the park – all made possible with funding provided by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. ‘The return of the rhinos to Rwanda’s Akagera National Park opens a new chapter in our conservation journey and we are grateful to all our partners that contributed to this achievement. We are fully prepared to welcome them and ensure their safety for the benefit of our tourism industry and the community at large. We couldn’t be more excited for their return‘ said Clare Akamanzi CEO- Rwanda Development Board.
‘Several years ago, as we were struggling to have success combating rhino poaching in other parts of Africa, I made a commitment to President Kagame that we would support the reintroduction of rhinos in Rwanda because we knew this country would protect them‘ said Howard G. Buffett, Chairman and CEO of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. ‘Today marks another milestone in Rwanda’s emerging leadership on the continent in conservation, eco-tourism and most importantly, good governance‘.
The Rwandan success also exposes as pseudo conservationists those naysayers in Kenya who tried to derail the lion relocation which was initially meant to received a core breeding population from Kenya but later on had to source the cats from South Africa too after the opinions among Kenyan conservation fraternity were unnecessarily heated up at the time. Subsequently did Rwanda then opt to also source their Eastern Black Rhinos from South Africa instead of having to go through the same delaying tactics by the same individuals again.
With fewer than 5,000 black rhino remaining across their range in the wild, of which approximately 1,000 are the Eastern black rhino subspecies, this reintroduction is an urgent, progressive, and valuable opportunity for their conservation, and serves as a story of hope for the species.