African Parks begins the rewilding phase of white rhinos with a donation to SA’s Munywana Conservancy
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African Parks begins the rewilding phase of white rhinos with a donation to SA’s Munywana Conservancy

News  
05-22-2024
 

African Parks, a conservation non-governmental organisation, which acquired the world’s largest captive rhino breeding operation in 2023, which was facing financial collapse, has donated 40 rhinos to the Munywana Conservancy in Zululand, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, in support of the conservancy's successful conservation and community efforts. 

The organisation’s chief executive Peter Fearnhead said in a statement sent to EcoTourism that the translocation marks the beginning of the rewilding phase of Rhino Rewild, which seeks to rewild 2,000 rhino and their offspring to well well-managed and secure areas.

“For African Parks, Rhino Rewild is one of our most exciting and globally strategic conservation opportunities to date, where together with a multitude of governmental, conservation, and community organisations, and key funders, we have the rare opportunity to help de-risk a species and, in the process, help protect some of the most critical conservation areas in Africa for the benefit of people and wildlife,” he said.

The Munywana Conservancy has a historic foundation, as 9,085 hectares of land were returned in 2007 to its ancestral owners, the Makhasa and Mnqobokazi communities, as part of South Africa’s land restitution process.

Both communities requested that the land continue to be kept under conservation. 

"Through this legacy, the Munywana Conservancy, now almost 30,000ha is upheld through a collaboration of community and private landowners that include the Makhasa Community Trust, the Mnqobokazi Community Trust, &Beyond Phinda and ZUKA Private Game Reserves,” said Fearnhead.

African Parks plans to reintroduce the southern white rhinos to well-managed and protected habitats over the next 10 years, establishing or augmenting strategic populations and therefore securing the future of the species.

Poaching poses a significant threat to the white rhino population, particularly in South Africa. Historically, there were two subspecies of rhinoceros: the southern white and the northern white.

With only two non-breeding females in captivity in Kenya, the northern white is effectively extinct.

In the 1930s, the southern white rhino population fell to a record low of 30 to 40 individuals, but by 2012, it had rebounded to almost 20,000 individuals due to excellent conservation efforts.

However, as a result of the tremendous increase in poaching for their horns for the illicit wildlife trade, their population is now below 13,000.


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