Black rhino relocated to eSwatini

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Sixteen endangered black rhino were moved over 700 km from poaching hotspot South Africa to an “ideal” – and safer – habitat in eSwatini, the country’s national wildlife authority said.

The rhino include adult breeding bulls and cows, young adults and calves. They are from a private game reserve in South Africa, where the cost of protecting them from poachers was rapidly becoming unsustainable, the wildlife authority said.

Once dehorned, they were released in eSwatini, formerly Swaziland.

“Delays were experienced especially with respect to the bureaucratic nightmare of issuance and re-issuance of permits,” said Ted Reilly, chief executive of Big Game Parks, eSwatini’s national wildlife authority.

“With all 16 rhinos safely captured in South Africa and transported over 700 km across an international border, dehorned and safely released into prime habitat, the second and most arduous phase of monitoring and security has begun,” Reilly said.

Only 5,000 black rhino are left globally, the authority said. About 20,000 are left of all rhino species. About 80% are in South Africa, which has lost over 8,000 rhino to poaching since 2008, according to Big Game Parks.

Landlocked between South Africa and Mozambique, eSwatini is safer. It lost only three rhino in 26 years, the statement said.

Anti-poaching measures have been stepped up since the black rhino arrived, Big Game Parks said. The rhino are being monitored to ensure problems are quickly identified. The animals found water and settled in.