In a monumental move to conserve and proliferate the southern white rhino population, African Parks, a conservation group that co-manages protected areas across a dozen African countries, has embarked on one of the largest continent-wide rewilding projects. This initiative is set to rehome and rewild 2000 southern white rhinos, which constitute around 15% of the total population of this species, across various regions in Africa.
A new home for the rhinos
The rhinos, which were raised on an 8500-hectare ranch in northern South Africa owned by businessman John Hume, are now under the guardianship of African Parks. This transition marks a significant milestone in the conservation of the species, as these rhinos will now contribute to ecosystems by enhancing nutrient cycling, storing carbon, and potentially boosting tourism revenue for local communities.
Despite the challenges posed by poaching and the high costs associated with conserving rhinos, this project stands as a beacon of hope. It showcases the critical role private owners can play in protecting and expanding the population of endangered species. In 2021, South Africa housed more than 80% of the continent's white rhino population, with nearly 7000 of them residing on private lands.
A vision for the future
Peter Fearnhead, the chief executive of African Parks, envisions this project as a significant step towards establishing new founder populations or supplementing existing ones across the continent. The organization plans to move about 300 animals per year to parks where there is adequate protection and sufficient grazing. This initiative is not just about saving a species but also about restoring the balance in the ecosystem and promoting sustainable tourism.
As African Parks spearheads this monumental rewilding project, it opens a new chapter in the conservation narrative of Africa. By fostering a harmonious relationship between humans and nature, this initiative is paving the way for a brighter and more sustainable future, where the majestic southern white rhinos can thrive in their natural habitat once again.
For more information, you can read the full article on New Scientist.
More information: https://www.africanparks.org/
Youtube credits: @africanparksnetwork