Relocated black rhinos die in Chad


Two of six critically endangered black rhinos relocated to Chad in May died, Zakouma National Park management said, undermining efforts to restore their population in Chad after a nearly 50-year absence.

Before the transfer of the six rhinos from South Africa, the species had not been seen in Chad since 1972, mostly as a result of rampant poaching.

Across their habitat in southern, eastern and central Africa, poaching drove the black rhino to near extinction. Numbers fell by 98% between 1960 and 1998, but doubled since to about 5,400 due to conservation efforts.

In a statement, African Parks, the non-profit organisation running Zakouma, said the carcasses of a male and female rhino were discovered in separate locations in the park on October 15.

It said the rhinos were not poached and the exact cause of death was not yet known. Gilles Desesquelles, an African Parks representative, said a virus could be to blame.

The relocation of the rhinos from South Africa was intended to safeguard the species by expanding its geographic distribution, restore Zakouma’s ecosystem and boost tourism to the park.

Zakouma has mostly eliminated poaching since a series of rebellions in Chad in 2009 ended and its elephant population — 95% of which was poached between 2002-2010 — is on the rise again.