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Media Release: Addo’s Black Rhino find new home in the Karoo

Date: 2008-10-28

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Today three black rhino arrived at their new home in Karoo National Park near Beaufort West after translocation from Addo Elephant National Park in the Eastern Cape.

Today three black rhino arrived at their new home in Karoo National Park near Beaufort West after translocation from Addo Elephant National Park in the Eastern Cape.

“This represents a full circle for these young rhino cows,” said SANParks veterinarian, Dr. David Zimmerman. “Thandi, one of the cows we translocated, was born in Addo Elephant National Park, then hand-raised when her mother rejected her. Today we are finally able to move her back to the wild.”

The Park’s Marine Rangers received a very welcome donation of two pairs of water-resistant binoculars as well as six waterproof cases for storage of equipment during marine patrols.

The three black rhino cows, aged between five and a half and three years, have been resident in a 400-hectare camp in the Addo Elephant National Park. The rhino Thandi was born in 2003 in the bomas in Addo Elephant National Park following her mother’s translocation to the Park from Namibia as part of a bid to bring new genes into the Addo rhino population.

Due to stress in the bomas, Thandi was rejected by her mother and could not suckle. At two days old she was flown to a rehabilitation centre in Pretoria where she was raised in the company of other young rhino calves before returning to the Addo Elephant National Park at ten months old to continue her hand-raising programme.

Black rhino are an endangered species and thus require special management to ensure each individual animal’s survival. The black rhino in Addo Elephant and Karoo National Parks belong to the Diceros bicornis bicornis, or so-called ‘desert-adapted’, subspecies, one of three subspecies of black rhino in Africa. Addo Elephant National Park is home to South Africa’s largest population of the bicornis subspecies rhino.

In 2005, Thandi was weaned from bottle-feeding and eventually released into the camp. Another two young black rhino cows joined Thandi in 2007 during a translocation of black rhino from Namibia to Addo Elephant and Karoo National Parks.

This rhino translocation was part of a four-way partnership between South African National Parks, the Namibian Ministry of Environment & Tourism, the Zambian Wildlife Authority and the Eastern Cape Parks Board with the intention of exchanging rhino for antelope species between Namibia and Zambia.

“We use translocations of rhino as an important management tool to ensure genetic diversity in our metapopulation of bicornis subspecies black rhino in National Parks,” said Dr. Zimmerman.

During the capture process which took place on Monday 27 October, the three rhino cows were darted from a helicopter, and then handled by a ground capture team who took vital measurements. Veterinarians monitored the condition of the immobilised rhino while transmitters were inserted into their horns. The rhino were then revived and guided into crates which were then loaded onto a truck for the translocation journey.

After a long journey by road, the three rhino were offloaded into the bomas at Karoo National Park in the early hours of this morning, 28 October.

The rhino will remain in the bomas for a period of two to three weeks to allow them to acclimatise to the new surroundings before being released into the 90 000-hectare Karoo National Park.

After release, the rhino will be monitored by Park rangers and researchers to ensure that they adapt well to their new home. Monitoring takes place by means of the transmitters inserted into the rhino horns as well as by tracking of spoor on the ground.

Issued by: South African National Parks

Enquiries: Megan Taplin, Regional Communications Manager, Addo Elephant, Camdeboo, Karoo, Mountain Zebra National Parks, tel: (042) 233-8609 or cell: 083 650 8649


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