Expanding the Range of the Black Rhino
The relocation formed part of WWF’s Black Rhino Range Expansion Project, which has successfully created 13 new Black Rhino populations in South Africa thus far.
The aim of the project is for Ezemvelo to partner with private and communal land owners to increase the habitat available to Black Rhino. Under the terms of the agreement, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife provides the Rhino, while the receiving property is responsible for the care and custodianship of the animals.
Black Rhino Breeding Dynamics
The four Black Rhinos translocated were specifically selected for relocation in order to preserve the genetics of the Black Rhino populations on the smaller reserves, to prevent conflict between bulls, and to expand the overall range of the species.
“Weenen has a very specific Black Rhino breeding program,” said Weenen Nature Reserve Conservation Manager, Frik Lemmer. “These young bulls need to be relocated to other reserves in order to protect the genetic wellbeing of the population.”
“We have a resident breeding bull on Weenen, and that animal should not be challenged in any way by other bulls on a property this size,” explains Lemmer. “It could lead to fighting, breakouts, and even the possible death of one of the animals.”
The Future of Black Rhinos in KZN
The relocation to Bonamanzi Game Reserve will not only protect existing populations, but also further promote the expansion of Black Rhino breeding opportunities in Kwa-Zulu Natal.
“Black Rhinos are very much at risk, which is why the breeding of these animals at smaller reserves like Weenen Nature Reserve is an important part of the population dynamic and the overall conservation of the species,” says Lemmer.
Led by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s Game Capture Unit; the Rhinos were safely darted, dehorned and transported.
Wildlife ACT has fitted each Rhino with a tracking collar to enable post-release monitoring.
The move was carried out as part of the Black Rhino Range Expansion Project, a partnership between Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and WWF, together with Wildlife ACT and Bonamanzi Game Reserve.