Four decades after becoming locally extinct, rhinos are roaming the forests of Mozambique again, bringing endangered species from South Africa to breathe new life into its parks and efforts to boost local tourism.
A group of rangers captured, sedated and relocated more than 1,000 miles (1,610 km) of black and white rhinos in Mozambique’s Zinewe National Park, which has 400,000 hectares and more than 2,300 other reintroduced animals.
“Rhinos are important to the ecosystem, which is one reason why we are taking them over such distances and doing all it takes to get them there,” said Kester Vickery, a conservationist overseeing rhino translocations. Yes, told Reuters.
The Peace Park Foundation (PPF) conservation group, which is piloting the operation, aims to relocate more than 40 rhinos to Mozambique over the next two years.
Its project manager, Anthony Alexander, said the group had already brought some poachers and several elephants to the park and it was now the turn of the rhinos.
“It is very exciting now to meet the historic species presence in the park,” Alexander said.
The initiative is a part of a campaign to save endangered species by relocating them to safe havens where they get a chance to increase their population.
“We are effectively spreading our eggs and putting them in different baskets,” Vicky said, adding that he expects Geneva to have a thriving population of white rhinos in 10 years.
Mozambique’s Environment Minister Ivete Maibez said in a statement that this historic relocation would also be beneficial to the country’s booming ecotourism industry.
Mozambique’s wildlife numbers were severely affected by a 15-year civil war, which ended in 1992, and by poaching.