Black Rhinos Taking Back Old Range

A group of eastern black rhinos have been moved from South Africa to Akagera National Park in Rwanda, ten years after the last one was observed there. Ten have already made the move, and another group will also join them in the coming weeks.

Until around 50 years ago, there were several dozen black rhinos in Akagera National Park, but this rhino population encountered the same decimation by poaching that many African rhino populations continue to face.

The park has prepared for the addition of the new rhinos by increasing surveillance with air and dog teams and by adding expert rhino tracking teams.

Along with the reintroduction of the lion in 2015, the country can now claim to be home to the complete Big Five again, which they hope will propel the tourism industry. Although the predicted revenue was the major motivation behind the rhino project, the economic mindset keeps the protection and conservation of the animal a high priority.

The IUCN classifies the eastern black rhino, or Diceros bicornis michaeli, as Critically Endangered. Numbers declined by over 90 percent over the past few decades, but the dedication to protection over the last few years has led to an increasing population trend. With these successes, more reintroductions may be possible in the future.

The eastern black rhino is one of three subspecies of black rhino, the smaller of the two African rhino species. A fourth subspecies has been classified as extinct since the last known population in Cameroon died out.

Sources: Newsweek and The Guardian

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