iSimangaliso’s Rhino Rescue
A race against time – the Ezemvelo game capture unit at work with the capture and dehorning before the 120km journey to transport the rhino to their new home. The removal of rhino under these circumstances is not without risk. The calf collapsed and had to be physically carried into the crate. It is a miracle that he survived. The excessively hot conditions in northern KZN as well as the weakened state of the rhino, required the capture team to work from first light and as fast as possible to get the animals sedated, dehorned, crated and transported to their new destination two hours’ drive away.
That moment of relief when the first two white rhino – a mother and her calf – were released into the temporary boma on the Western Shores. Both are in a class three condition, but were already eating more nutritious grass as they came out the crates. They were released simultaneously to ensure that mother and daughter stayed together. The boma was opened minutes later. “Having one of the world’s best teams in the business, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s Game Capture unit, is a major factor in the success of the relocation,” says Andrew Zaloumis, CEO of iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
Mother and daughter in their new range on the Western Shores of iSimangaliso’s Lake St Lucia.
“During the 1950s when the world’s population of white rhino fell to a mere 300 individuals, a bold initiative to capture and relocate them brought the species back from the edge of extinction,” says Zaloumis. “Now, 60 years later, they once again face multiple threats to their survival – poaching for their horns and more recently, the reduction of suitable habitat due to persistent severe drought, often worsened by poor land management practices upstream from protected areas. Rhinos are not only a priority endangered species globally, they are also iconic in South Africa. We will do whatever we practically can to ensure their protection and survival.“
Since the implementation of iSimangaliso’s recent strategy to dehorn all rhino on the Western Shores – where they were deemed to be more vulnerable to poaching – no further rhino have been lost in that section.
The iSimangaliso Rhino Dehorning Action