Good news for rhinos - at last
At a time when the word rhino has become synonymous with bloodshed, bullets and a poaching rate of three animals each day, it is not often that there is some good news.
Yet the sun does shine through the dark clouds from time to time - as happened last week when 14 black rhinos from KwaZulu-Natal were moved to help multiply the endangered species in a new private reserve in the north of the country. It is part of a conservation project to spread the species from state land into private and community-owned reserves.
For security reasons the location of the new reserve has not been disclosed.
The Worldwide Fund for Nature said the aim is to provide more living and breeding space, thereby allowing the threatened animals to multiply as rapidly as possible.
Since 2003, 11 small groups of black rhino have been shifted from the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and Eastern Cape provincial parks. These small founder populations have grown to such an extent that several of the 14 animals moved last week were sourced from private or community parks that started off with small founder populations barely a decade ago.
"This is good news because it shows the plan to increase black rhino numbers is working," said rhino range expansion project leader Jacques Flamand. Nevertheless, there are only about 5000 black rhinos left in Africa, with 2000 of them in South Africa.
"Black rhino, and rhino generally, are under huge pressure. We really have to fight for them. If they don't have champions, they are doomed to disappear," said Flamand.