Seventeen black rhinos have been moved from South Africa to Malawi, in what conservationists and wildlife officials said on Wednesday, November 13, 2019 was one of the largest translocations to date.
The species is endangered, with only around 5,500 black rhinos still living in the wild in Africa.
They have been poached for their horns, which are believed to have medicinal properties or act as an aphrodisiac, especially in Asia.
“The export of black rhino to other range states within the African continent represents a significant shift in our efforts to save this species from extinction,” said Ntsikelelo Dlulane of the South African conversation organisation Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.
“Black rhino are a uniquely African species and it is therefore incumbent on the continent as a whole to take collective responsibility for their continued survival,’’ he added.
The 17 animals were captured in the eastern South African province of KwaZulu-Natal and quarantined for six weeks before being flown to the Malawi capital of Lilongwe.
They were then taken to Liwonde National Park, where they were released on Tuesday.
“By restoring our natural heritage, in concert with economic development, we’re providing a sustainable future for both wildlife and people in our country,” said Brighton Kumchedwa of the Malawi Department of National Parks and Wildlife.
Measures are in place to protect rhinos in the country’s national parks, including aerial surveillance, ranger patrols and tracking sensors worn by the animals.
The move was carried out as part of the World Wildlife Fund’s Black Rhino Range Expansion Project.
It was its first cross-border translocation.