Following on the successful relocation of six rhinos from South Africa's Phinda Private Game Reserve to Botswana in 2013, today an impressive effort to move 100 rhinos into Botswana's secure wildlife areas is underway. Initiated by &Beyond and Great Plains Conservation, the relocation "is a global one that we can all play a role in, small and large," says Great Plains CEO and wildlife filmmaker, Dereck Joubert.
Botswana's rhinos were largely poached out of the country by 1992, with a survey of only 19 white rhino at that time, while the black rhino was considered "locally extinct." In 2001 the Wilderness Wildlife Trust began the Botswana Rhino Relocation and Reintroduction Project, releasing about 32 white rhino into the Mombo Camp area of the Moremi Game Reserve within the greater Okavango Delta ecosystem. In 2003, four black rhino—these were two breeding pairs—were reintroduced as well. The first white rhino calf born in Botswana in almost 15 years was discovered with joy by the researchers in 2004, and in 2009, the first black rhino calf was discovered! The rhinos are closely monitored in partnership with Botswana's Department of Wildlife and the Botswana government, and the populations continue to increase in number today.
The new initiative to relocate 100 more rhinos into Botswana's highly protected and pristine wildlife areas from higher risk areas of South Africa will cost an estimated $8 million US dollars, and fundraising initiatives will be announced on an ongoing basis to make this happen. With well over 1,000 rhinos killed by poachers in 2013, at a rate of one every nine hours, the effort to save these species couldn't come too soon.
For more information on Rhinos Without Borders, click here.
Image by Wilderness Wildlife Trust