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Saving the Black Rhino

THE small remaining genetic pool of Black Rhino is threatened as never before.
This was the stark warning from rhino expert, Dr Jacques Flamand to a select audience at the  Enseleni Nature Reserve last week.

The occasion was the first public fundraiser for the ‘Adopt A Black Rhino’ conservation project, based at the Zululand Rhino Reserve (ZRR) near Hluhluwe.  Flamand said: ‘At ZRR we have the opportunity of giving this species, which numbered 65 000 in 1922 and only 3 000 in 1992, a chance to recover from the brink of extinction.’

He said threats to its survival included the lack of habitat, with all Black Rhino in KZN in a few formal protected areas only and no new public land available for Black Rhino conservation.
‘This leads to concerns about slow population growth, as lack of roaming space inhibits breeding.
‘Poaching snares, poverty, wars, corruption and greed and land-hunger are added threats.’
Flamand said the aim was to have a Black Rhino population in KZN increasing on average at over 5% per annum, thereby contributing to provincial target of 1,000 and national of 3,000.
In the past three years, three populations have been established in northern KZN: Mun-ya-wana Game Reserve (20 000ha), Zululand Rhino Reserve (24 000ha) and Pongola Game Reserve (14 000 ha), with the Emakhosini-Opathe Heritage Park (16 000ha) in the pipeline.

The ZRR, part of the World Wildlife Foundation’s Black Rhino Range Expansion Project, now boasts 27 Black Rhino on land made available by neighbouring farmers who pulled down their fences.
In a stirring appeal, ZRR Chairman Clive Viviers said the ZRR was a pilot model for the world.
‘A species that has survived for 40 million years in its present form is now threatened by man.
‘With more poachers and fewer Black Rhino, the situation can only get worse,’ said Vivier.
‘But every challenge is an opportunity. We have saved the White Rhino; we can save the Black Rhino.’

The ZRR thanked wildlife artist Joe Marais, the Zululand Observer, Khwela Print, Wyett’s, Graphic

Dimensions and Naas Stoop Photography for their contribution to the fundraising dinner.
Contact Karen Odendaal on 082 7468585 to become involved in the Adopt A Black Rhino Project.

Author:  Dave Savides
Source:  Zululand Observer