Malawi just got a big boost for their black rhino population with the successful translocation of 17 rhinos from South Africa to Liwonde National Park in Malawi.
The campaign forms part of a custodian agreement between the two countries' governments, spearheaded by WWF South Africa, African Parks, Malawi’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.
The 17 rhinos were captured in KwaZulu-Natal's iMfolozi Game Reserve and quarantined for six weeks before being flown from King Shaka International Airport in Durban to Lilongwe, with every precaution taken to ensure their well-being throughout the process. From Lilongwe, they were then driven to their new home where they were released on Tuesday and are settling in well according to African Parks.
WATCH: After decades of absence, Tanzania welcomes re-introduction of rare eastern black rhinos
Rhino being loaded into a crate in iMfolozi Game Reserve. (Photo: (Photo: Scott Ramsay/African Parks)
Part of the move also included the relocation of two of Liwonde's black rhinos to Majete Wildlife Reserve and another one vice versa, to ensure genetic diversity.
“The translocation of black rhino between South Africa and Malawi, supplemented by translocations between Liwonde and Majete, are crucial for the health and survival of these key populations, which will now be managed as one metapopulation in Malawi," explains Craig Reid, park manager at Liwonde.
"Well-managed protected areas are a vital lifeline for countless wildlife and people. Thanks to the leadership of the Malawi Government and our partnership with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, we’ve been able to ensure that critically endangered species like black rhino can return to these places and people can benefit from these areas being conserved”.
ALSO WATCH: Daredevil Zulu Princess skydives for rhinos
Rhinos in crates on a plane. (Photo: Craig Reid/African Parks)
An 'African solution'
This move forms part of the Black Rhino Range Expansion Project, which has moved 220 black rhinos since 2003, and this was the project's first international move.
Acting CEO Ntsikelelo Dlulane from Ezemvelo praised the work that can be done when African countries work together to the benefit of the whole continent.
"Black rhinos are a uniquely African species and it is therefore incumbent on the continent as a whole to take collective responsibility for their continued survival. By agreeing to this initiative Ezemvelo has taken a selfless and brave decision to support this concept of an 'African solution'."
The same sentiment was shared on the Malawian side.
“This international collaboration has provided an important opportunity for us to contribute to improving the prospects of rhinos in Africa, says Brighton Kumchedwa, director of Malawi's DNPW.
"By restoring our natural heritage, in concert with economic development, we’re providing a sustainable future for both wildlife and people in our country.”
READ: Conservation agencies celebrate wins for African elephants and rhinos at COP18
Ranger monitoring sedated rhino in Liwonde. (Photo: Kyle de Nobrega/African Parks)
African Parks has been working with Liwonde to strengthen their law enforcement and anti-poaching units by working through community initiatives. Extensive measures to protect the rhinos include aerial surveillance, daily ranger patrols and the integration of the most advanced technology to enable their live-time tracking.
Each animal has been fitted with a new GPS sensor device from Smart Parks, allowing teams to accurately monitor their activity and location constantly.
"With only around 5500 black rhinos remaining across their range in the wild, translocations to well-protected areas are essential in giving populations a chance for growth and survival, and allowing future generations of people to benefit from their natural heritage," says African Parks in a statement.
READ: The faceless heroes in combat on the frontlines of SA's rhino-poaching war
Black rhino after release in plains of Liwonde. (Photo: Kyle de Nobrega/African Parks)
Find Your Escape by signing up for the Traveller24 Weekly Newsletter – Subscribe here. Or download the News24 App here, to receive expertly curated travel ideas and deals directly to your mobile.