WWF takes extreme measures to save rhinos
Since 2003, WWF’s Black Rhino Range Expansion Project (BRREP) has helped create eight new populations in an effort to increase the number of rhinos in South Africa. These populations reside in KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo on land totalling over 160,000 hectares.
Dr Jacques Flamand, the head of BRREP, says, “More than 130 black rhino have been moved to new homes, while over 40 calves have been born on project sites.”
Translocating rhinos requires dedicated, skilled teams, who constantly work to improve their translocation methods in an effort to reduce the stress caused to the animals. Flamand explains that during the latest translocation blood samples were taken for testing to ensure that airlifting sedated rhinos for short distances by their ankles does not stress the animals at all.
“We believe this is the best way to move rhinos as it does not compromise their breathing and reduces the distance and time they have to travel by truck over difficult terrain. While indications are that it does not harm the animals, we want to be absolutely sure,” adds Flamand.
Flamand has dedicated the last ten years to creating new populations to help boost black rhino numbers. He explains, “People have caused the decline in rhino numbers and, as people, it is up to us to reverse the trend. If we do nothing, they will disappear and I’d hate for that tragedy to happen in my lifetime.”
Already this year 430 South African rhinos have been killed by poachers. Rhino horns are in demand in Asia, particularly Viet Nam. The country lost its last rhino to poaching in 2010.