Singita Grumeti Reserves has released photographs taken in the Serengeti of five Eastern Black Rhinoceros in their new environment, after they were relocated from South Africa to their rightful home in East Africa recently (on 21 May 2010).
The critically endangered rhinos, the first of a group of 32, are reportedly healthy and adapting well. Within the next few days, the five rhinos (3 females and 2 males) will be released from the current temporary bomas (enclosures) where they have been monitored since their arrival, into an electrified sanctuary spanning some 43 square kilometers.
The balance of the group of 32 rhinos will be introduced over a period of two years, with the next group scheduled to arrive in East Africa towards the end of the year (2010).
A joint venture spearheaded by the Singita Grumeti Fund (SGF) as majority sponsor of the project, in collaboration with Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) and the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS), the project has been cited as ‘the most ambitious wildlife relocation in East Africa over the past 50 years'.
The success of this endeavour to return the rhinos back to their natural habitat in the Serengeti - scene of Africa's thrilling annual wildebeest migration, will be a monumental achievement in the field of conservation. Just over four decades ago, black rhino populations in East Africa were flourishing, however poaching within the Serengeti National Park since then has resulted in the black rhino population dwindling from 1000 to less than 70.
Re-introducing these rhinos will help to link the existing groups which occur in various isolated pockets. Ultimately, this will allow for vital genetic exchange, creating a stronger, healthier population.
To ensure the protection of the rhinos during the relocation process, and their long-term sustainability into the future, an elite Serengeti Rhino Protection Unit (SRPU) has been established comprising 23 carefully selected and trained rangers. The operational skills of this dedicated team are being monitored by an experienced trainer from African Field Ranger Services, Martin Mthembu. In addition, their efficiency will be bolstered by the invaluable guidance of an experienced senior wildlife police officer for the Zambian Wildlife Authority, who has extensive experience in extended multi-day foot patrols and patrol planning.