MADRID (EUROPA PRESS) – More than 2 thousand white rhinos, a figure that represents close to 15% of the total population of this animal, will be released over the next 10 years in Africa, reported the non-governmental organization African Parks, after purchasing the land from a farm in the North West Province of South Africa.
“African Parks had no intention of owning a captive rhino breeding operation with 2,000 rhinos. However, we fully recognize the moral imperative to find a solution for these animals, so that they can once again play their integral role in fully functional ecosystems,” said NGO director Peter Feranhead.
“The scale of this mission is simply enormous, and therefore overwhelming. However, it is equally one of the most exciting and strategic conservation opportunities globally,” he said, before stressing that the NGO “will work with multiple governments, funding partners and conservation organizations committed to turning this vision into reality.”
The organization, which manages 22 protected areas in collaboration with 12 African governments, confirmed that all the rhinos are found in ‘Platinum Rhino’, a 7,800-hectare property in the aforementioned South African province.
‘Platinum Rhino’ went up for auction in April 2023 due to its financial problems, although there were no bids, which led African Parks to assume responsibility after requests from several people and given its experience in transferring rhinos to Rwanda, Malawi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
For her part, South Africa’s Minister of Forests, Fisheries and Environment, Barbara Creecy, applauded the “important agreement”, which “facilitates a conservation solution for rhinos currently in captivity.”
In this way, Creecy outlined that the South African authorities “are willing to help African Parks and other partners with technical and scientific advice in order to develop a conservation solution that includes the transfer of animals for a period of time to suitable parks and places community conservation projects in South Africa and other parts of the African continent”.
The white rhino is under great pressure, especially in South Africa, due to poaching. The species is made up of two subspecies, the southern white rhinoceros and the northern white rhinoceros, which is practically extinct, as only two sterile females remain in captivity in Kenya.
In the case of the southern white rhino, the subspecies reached its lowest number of specimens in the 1930s, with only between 30 and 40 animals, although conservation measures have allowed its population to increase to 20,000 in 2012, a number that has been reduced to 13,000 today due to hunting.