Four of six endangered black rhinos relocated to Chad from South Africa died, possibly of starvation, the two countries and an NGO said.
The rhinos were transferred from South Africa in May, re-introducing the species into Chad for the first time since 1972, owing to rampant poaching. Chad reported two died last month.
“Low fat reserves suggest maladaptation by the rhinos to the new environment is the likely underlying cause,” said the two nations and conservation group African Parks, which oversaw the move to Chad’s Zakouma National Park.
“The remaining two animals will be recaptured and put in holding facilities to facilitate closer management.”
Two decades ago, poaching drove black rhinos to near extinction across their habitat in southern, eastern and central Africa. Numbers fell by 98% between 1960 and 1998, but doubled since then to about 5,400 as conservation efforts intensified.
None of the four that died in Zakouma were poached. Tests are being run to establish exact cause of death.
Relocation of the rhinos from South Africa was intended to help safeguard the long-term future of the species by spreading it into more locations.
A similar attempt to move black rhinos in Kenya also ended with animals dying. Eleven rhinos moved into Kenya’s Tsavo East National Park from other parks in June, but 10 of them died, apparently from drinking saline water. The 11th was attacked by a lion and died from wounds.