South Africa Sends 16 White Rhinos to the DRC to Up Population
16:13 12.06.2023 (Updated: 16:37 12.06.2023)
After the last northern white rhino in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was killed in a poaching incident in 2006, the translocation was initiated as a conservation effort to repopulate the species in the country.
Sixteen southern white rhinos have been transported from South Africa to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in an effort to support the long-term protection
of their population in Africa, Congolese Garamba National Park officials stated.
According to a statement from African Parks, a conservation organization engaged in the exercise, the southern white rhinos traveled together from South Africa's Phinda Private Game Reserve to Garamba National Park in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Saturday.
"The return of white rhinos to the Democratic Republic of Congo is a testament to our country’s commitment to biodiversity conservation," Milan Yves Ngangay, the director-general of the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN), stated. "As Garamba is poised to become a globally important sanctuary for megaherbivores, introducing the southern white rhino to the country is an important step in advancing our contribution to rhino conservation in Africa."
The rhinos were transported by a vehicle to the park after being airlifted twice from South Africa to the Kibali Mine airfield of Barrick Gold Corporation in the DRC.
Southern white rhinos are one of two subspecies of the white rhinos alongside the northern white rhino.
The southern white rhino, which is the nearest genetic substitute to the northern white rhino, can fill the position of the northern white rhino in the terrain, according to Peter Fearnhead, chief executive officer of African Parks.
A population of less than 100 southern white rhinos was found in what is now South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal region in 1895 after the species was first thought to be extinct
in the late 19th century.
The population later rose to between 19,600 and 21,000 living in protected regions and private game reserves, mostly in South Africa, as a result of century-long focused conservation efforts.
But because of poaching, the number of white rhinos has been estimated to decline to around 15,000.
"Conservation translocations have proven to be a critical tool in securing the survival of endangered species such as the rhino," said Dale Wepener, Phinda's conservation manager.