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SOS Rhino : In the News : Archived News : January 2000 : Rhinos Make a Comeback

Rhinos Make a Comeback

The Gazette (Montreal)
January 8, 2000

MOTSETSE GAME RESERVE, South Africa - Africa's southern white rhinoceros is one of the 20th century's great comeback kids.

And that, some conservationists say, is at least partly because ecotourism creates more jobs than agriculture and gives communities a vested interest in protecting endangered animals.

In recent years cattle farmers have turned ranges over to game, bringing wild animals back to areas where they had not been seen in decades. At this former farm, two newly introduced bull rhinos sniff around the perimeter of the fence of their new home. From the top of a hill, one can see the rhinos in one direction and in the other, the Johannesburg skyline shimmered in the distance.

''We have three bulls now and a female and a calf coming soon,'' Motsetse's warden Neville Hawkey said proudly. In the 1920s there were between just 50 and 100 in southern Africa, virtually all in the Umfolozi Game Reserve in South Africa.

Now, thanks to South Africa's intense conservation efforts, there are well over 8,000 southern white rhinos and the prospects for survival well into the 21st century look good.

''The southern white rhino is one of the most phenomenal conservation success stories in all of Africa, if not the world,'' said conservationist and author Clive Walker.

As Europeans moved into the interior from the Cape in the 17th to 19th centuries, they found rhino to be an easy supply of meat. Alarmed at the situation, conservationists made a concerted effort in the early 20th century to save the animal at the neighbouring Umfolozi and Hluhluwe parks, which had been declared game reserves in 1897.

Umfolozi and Hluhluwe became the animals' premier breeding ground and virtually every southern white rhino in the world today is descended from those reserves.




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