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Tanzania's rhinos - Edging back from the brink

07/10/2013 10:14:15
world/Africa_nov_09/serengeti_rhino_fzs

One of the rhino released into the Serengeti.Credit Frankfurt Zoological Society.

Rhinos in Tanzania
September 2013. Tanzania is home to the Black Rhino. In Tanzania the IUCN estimate there are just 123 black rhino remaining in the wild. Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) is currently working in partnership with (Tanzanian National Parks) TANAPA and other Tanzania authorities to increase the security in Serengeti National Park and across the country. Resource protection and monitoring of rhinos (and elephant) is of top priority.

Rhino protection in Serengeti & Selous
The major threat continues to be poaching for rhino horn. FZS are convinced that with enough effort, patience, ingenuity, money and hope the rhinos of Tanzania will become a conservation success story. FZS is involved in supporting efforts to protect rhinos in Tanzania in the Serengeti National Park and Selous Game Reserve.

Serengeti
Black rhino were once numerous across the Serengeti. It is estimated that around 500 to 700 rhinos once roamed freely in the Serengeti Ecosystem. Poaching, however, reduced this number greatly in the 1970's.
It was feared that none were left in Serengeti National Park, but in the 1980's two females appeared again in the Moru area of Central Serengeti, one named Mama Serengeti. Miraculously, one of the young bulls living in the Ngorongoro Crater left the Crater and made it over 100km to Moru where he was welcomed by the two lonely females. He has happily lived ever after in his own paradise looking after his new found harem. After his arrival four calves were born and the Serengeti National Park - Moru population now has between 25 and 30 individuals.

Mama Serengeti is still alive today and was spotted a year ago with a new calf. All three rhinos in this "starting population" are still alive today. The first five of the thirty-two rhinos scheduled to be brought from South Africa for reintroduction into the Serengeti arrived in May 2010.

The President of Tanzania, Dr. Jakaya Kikwete, remarked that they are a "stark reminder of what went wrong and the past and a lesson for what needs to be done to prevent it from happening again."

A Black rhino, known as George, was killed by poachers on the Serengeti. Photo credit Emmanuel Dawson Kaaya

A Black rhino, known as George, was killed by poachers on the Serengeti. Photo credit Emmanuel Dawson Kaaya

Of these 5 rhinos, 1 died of natural causes, another sadly was poached, and another gave birth to a calf. It is estimated that there are 35 rhinos (approximately) in the Ngorongoro Crater, and possibly another 24 in Kenya's Maasai Mara, a handful of which often cross the unmarked border into Serengeti. With these three remaining rhino populations in the Serengeti ecosystem - there is hope that in the future these remarkable animals will roam again all over the Serengeti, as they did before.

Selous rhinos - Clinging on
Rhinos in Selous Game Reserve (SGR) have suffered a very high level of poaching, particularly during the 1980s. Estimates put the population at 3,000 in 1981 which declined to 300-400 individuals by the end of the 1980s. It is thought that the rhino populations still exist, but the number is unknown. Over the last year there have been confirmed sightings of three individuals at ranger posts in the northern Selous Game Reserve. Additionally, in August 2012 two dung middens were found; one was under three months old and the other was over six months old. As there is no recent data of population numbers, it is critical timing to monitor these rhinos and ensure their continued protection.

FZS are hopeful that one day, visitors to Serengeti and Selous, will again frequently spot these amazing animals.

Courtesy of Frankfurt Zoological Society 

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