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SOS Rhino : In the News : Wildlife Enthusiasts Find New Way to Save Black Rhino

Wildlife Enthusiasts Find New Way to Save Black Rhino

  October 24, 2003
Posted to the web October 24, 2003

Nicola Jenvey, Kwazulu-Natal Correspondent

An innovative programme to breed the black rhino on private properties to save the endangered animals from extinction has attracted about 30 expressions of interest from wildlife enthusiasts.

The World Wide Fund (WWF) and provincial wildlife authority Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife launched the black rhino range expansion project officially in July. It aims to boost the numbers of black rhino by increasing the land available for their conservation, thus reducing the pressure on existing reserves and providing new territory in which the animals can breed more rapidly.

The concept bases its potential success on nature's inherent ability to breed exponentially when resources are plentiful.

Potential partners need not to have been traditionally involved with conservation and can include communities and private and corporate landowners. However, they must hold suitable habitat within the historic range of the black rhino and the site chosen will ideally be at least 20000ha with a carrying capacity of 50 to 100 black rhino.

Meeting the size requirement may demand fences be dropped between neighbouring landowners. Other factors influencing suitability include low poaching levels, adequate fencing, links to existing black rhino areas and the potential to offer economic benefit to local communities.

WWF project leader Jacques Flamand said initially they initially they were looking for partners in KwaZulu-Natal, with the potential of expanding the project's scope in the medium term. So far, there have been 20 responses from individual property owners and one traditional authority, and nine expressions of interest from outside the province.

"Establishing partnerships between landholders with a strong tradition of independence will be a challenge, yet (there is hope) that the opportunity to be part of a significant conservation story ...will help overcome the obstacles," he said.