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Hundreds of rhinos to be evacuated from Kruger National Park

13/08/2014 11:41:34

An adult white rhino bull in the Kruger National Park

Nearly 500 rhinos could be moved from South Africa's Kruger National Park to save them from poachers if plans are approved, say the country’s Department of Environmental Affairs.

More than 80 per cent of the world’s population of African rhino – some  21 000 -  live in South Africa (93 per cent of Africa’s white rhino and 39 per cent  of Africa’s black rhino), including 9,600 white rhinos in Kruger.

Known as a stronghold Kruger is therefore heavily targeted by poachers with a record 606 (out of a total of 1004) rhinos killed during 2013. The news is not good for 2014 either with 351 rhinos being poached since January.

The animals will be moved to other less-known and lesser-targeted parks, both national and private, in a hope this will spread the risk and help create other rhino strongholds across the country.

The rhino population in South Africa was rescued from the brink of extinction in the early 1900s. At the time, the rhino population in the Kruger National Park was locally extinct.

Since the start of the relocation of 351 rhino from the Hluhluwe-uMfolozi game reserve in KwaZulu-Natal to the Kruger National Park 50 years ago, the Kruger rhino population had increased to  its present numbers.

The report from the South African Department of Environmental Affairs  said: “Our previous experience has shown that biological management, which includes translocations, has resulted in the growth of rhino numbers in South Africa. The complimentary approach of strategic relocations from the Kruger National Park and the creation of rhino strongholds will allow the total rhino population size of South Africa to continue to grow.

"Translocated rhinos contribute to the creation of alternative strongholds, which are areas where rhinos can be cost-effectively protected while applying conservation husbandry to maximize population growth.

“This approach allows the offsetting of poaching in the short to medium term, while also expanding rhino range and improving overall." 

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