Six black rhino arrive in Chad for the first time in 46 years

04 May 2018


The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa, has expressed joy at the safe arrival of six black rhino from South Africa at the Zakouma National Park in Chad.

The rhinos arrived safe in Chad with no challenges encountered during the translocation, with the operation carried out under the watchful eye of SA National Parks veterinarians. The arrival of the rhino marks the first time 46 years that black rhino will roam the Central African country.

“I am delighted that South Africa’s conservation success is able to contribute to the return of such an iconic species to a sister country.  My fervent hope is that these rhino will serve as a catalyst for economic growth, particularly in the conservation and tourism fields, in Chad,” said Minister Molewa.

On 8 October 2017, Dr Molewa and the Minister of Environment and Fisheries of the Republic of Chad, Dr Ahmat Mbodou Mahamat, signed a Memorandum of Understanding in the field of Biodiversity Conservation and Management in Pretoria. he Ministers had also signed a Memorandum of Understanding which allows for the translocation of black rhino from South Africa to Chad as part of an initiative to reintroduce rhino to the African country.

The translocation of six black rhino has been achieved through a collaboration between the Department of Environmental Affairs, the Government of Chad, SANParks and the African Parks Foundation. 

The six rhino had been transported from the Addo Elephant National Park, where they were held in bomas for three months, on 3 May 2018.  The flight transporting the rhino, as well as SANParks and African Parks veterinarians, had touched down in the Zakouma National Park shortly before 11am on 4 May 2018.  The rhino are all well and have been released into bomas to adjust to their new surroundings.  They are expected to be released into the Park soon.

Welcoming rhino to the Zakouma National Park, South Africa’s Ambassador to Chad, Mr Titus Matlakeng said he was delighted that South Africa’s conservation success, particularly in saving the Black Rhino from extinction enabled this contribution that marked the historic return of this iconic species to the Republic of Chad. 

“My fervent hope is that this reintroduction will contribute to the strengthening of conservation and tourism sectors that are critical in advancing economic growth, social cohesion, and rural development in both countries,” he said.  “The development of communities that are bordering national parks and similar establishments, further creates opportunities for the enhancement of the livelihoods of our people, thus accordingly creating jobs, alleviating poverty and boosting local enterprises. This is well in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which encourages partnership, through development that will attain the “future we want” as the African continent.”

The last black rhino (Diceros bicornis longipes) in Chad was noted in Zakouma in 1972, which the species officially being declared extinct in 2006.

The MOU on the re-introduction of black rhino in Chad re-establishes the rhinoceros population in Chad as part of the broader biodiversity initiatives between South Africa and Chad.  The translocation is part of a custodianship agreement in terms of which any offspring of these rhino are the property of Chad, and may be translocated to other countries as a means of re-establishing rhino populations within the continent in line with the African Rhino Range States Conservation Plan.

Chad had earlier signed an agreement with African Parks Network (APN) which allows APN to manage the country’s national parks.   

The translocation of black rhino to Chad is a key component of the African Rhino Conservation Plan which has as its principle aim as growth in Continental rhino numbers over the next five years.  The establishment of a rhino meta-population in Africa is also part of the Integrated Strategic Management Approach for rhino, in which the management of the rhino population to expand the rhino range and encourage population growth is key.

The Approach also encourages the empowerment of communities by ensuring that more people are able to participate in the game farming, game meat and related sectors, such as eco-tourism. This entry to economic opportunities and previously devoid of previously disadvantaged citizens have not only created jobs, but have also developed the economy. In implementing the MOU, our officials will also be sharing with their counterparts in Chad, best practices learnt in the protection of Rhinos by communities on an on-going basis. These engagements will not exclude the African Parks colleagues.

Further engagements will take place during this visit that will map out the plan of monitoring of these Rhinos after this translocation, this will be coupled with engagements on implementation of the broader MOU signed between the two countries. 

Rhino have previously been translocated from South Africa to Namibia, Botswana, Rwanda and Tanzania.

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