Tanzania once had many black rhinos until rampant poaching during the 1960s and 1970s in the Serengeti, devastated the population. This was primarily driven by a desire for rhino horn, medicinally prized in parts of Asia. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) estimated only 133 black rhinos left by 2015. Then in the 1990s, Tanzania declared a war against unscrupulous poachers in order to conserve the few remaining rhinos.

Reintroduction plans

The strategy is to reintroduce black rhinos that were originally from East Africa in order to increase genetic diversity. Three translocations of black rhinos between 1997 and 2001 involved 10 animals from South Africa. Two were reintroduced to Ngorongoro Crater and eight to Mkomazi National Park. In 2007, two black rhinos from the UK, were introduced into a sanctuary adjacent to Ikorongo-Grumeti Game Reserves. In 2009, three black rhinos from the Czech Republic were translocated to Mkomazi National Park. Then in May 2010 conservationists brought a further 10 black rhinos into the Serengeti ecosystem. The challenge still remains the management of the reintroduced rhinos amid the growing social-ecological pressures affecting protected areas.

Positive outlook

However, this great reintroduction continues and just last month, Tanzania welcomed a total of nine black rhinos into its Serengeti national park as part of the continuing efforts to restore this critically endangered species population. ‘The arrival of the nine black rhinos is in line with the government’s conservation plans that aim to increase the number…in their natural habitats,’ Tanzania’s deputy natural resources and tourism minister, Constantine Kanyasu, said. The rhinos, were donated by the Grumeti Fund, a non-profit organisation carrying out wildlife conservation in the Serengeti, Kanyasu revealed.

Good news is that Tanzania’s presidency recently announced that the country’s elephant and rhino populations have begun to rebound. This is due to a government crackdown which dismantled organised criminal networks involved in industrial-scale poaching. Click on the video above to see what it takes to get these incredible animals back to the Serengeti.

For more info about conservation see https://www.grumetifund.org/ 

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