Save the Rhino International commend African Parks and partners for bold conservation action in taking ownership of over 2,000 Southern white rhino from the private captive rhino breeding operation, “Platinum Rhino”, to “rewild” these rhino over the next decade. With just 15,942 white rhinos recorded as remaining on the continent based on latest official counts from 2022 by the IUCN African Rhino Specialist, this could represent more than 12% of the continental population of white rhino – and nearly 8% of all of the five species of rhinos alive globally.
Dr Jo Shaw, CEO of Save the Rhino International said, “It is really exciting to see this positive step towards resolving one of the most complex challenges facing rhino conservation in recent times.”
Re-introducing these animals to secure areas of suitable habitat in landscapes within their former range, will not only assist in recovery of the white rhino species, it will also mean their ecological role is fulfilled, with benefits for other species and broader ecosystems
Dr Shaw added, “We are increasingly reaching scenarios where the obstacle for the future of African rhinos is not the number of animals themselves, but the availability of safe space for them to live in”.
An undertaking of this scale will require significant investment to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the rhinos during the phase out period of the Platinum Rhino captive operation, to cover the logistics of future translocation operations and, critically, for the future functioning and legitimacy of the potential rhino areas and the people who live around them. It can also provide an opportunity to trial new models of rhino conservation with community participation.
Strong partnerships already forged between African Parks, the South African government and technical and scientific experts will be vital to turn their vision into reality. It will also require other rhino range state governments, donors, implementing partners, private sector companies, community members and NGOs to find new ways to work together and turn this rhino conservation challenge into a great opportunity.
Listen to Dr Jo Shaw’s comments on the BBC Global News podcast.