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SOS Rhino : In the News : Archived News : October 2000 : Rhino park to be lost to farm plan: The Zimbabwean regime plans to take the rhino-breeding ranch for its farm allocation program
 

Rhino park to be lost to farm plan: The Zimbabwean regime plans to take the rhino-breeding ranch for its farm allocation program

 
The Vancouver Sun
October 28, 2000

WEDZA, Zimbabwe - The Mugabe government on Friday added to its farmland-reallocation program a cattle ranch that is home to successful breeding program for the endangered black rhinoceros.

''If they do take it over, there will no animals any more,'' said John Travers, 47, who runs the park. ''They would all be snared and poached. The rhino project would cease to exist. It would be the end of everything here.''

Among the mostly white- owned 2,295 properties so far identified for resettlement by blacks are the most highly developed agricultural estates in the country, schools, hospitals, missions, already resettled farms, a huge state-owned fuel-storage-tank facility and large chunks of wildlife conservancies in semi-desert incapable of sustaining anything except hardy game. But even among these, the absurdity of setting aside the Imire game farm for subsistence agriculture is conspicuous.

Imire's rhino were collected in 1986 to rescue the few score survivors of the relentless poaching of the world's largest wild population of black rhino.

Animal scientists had scorned the plans of Norman Travers, John's father, to breed rhino alongside cattle on his farm, believing the environment was ''completely unsuitable.''

Rhinos have a gestation period of 15 months, and in the wild mate again only after three years, when the calf leaves its mother. The Imire program doubled the rate of reproduction by weaning the calves at three months, removing them from their mothers and hand- rearing them.

So far six calves have been successfully returned to a specially protected rhino zone in the Zambezi Valley.




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