Thirty southern white rhinos, native to South Africa, have been introduced to Rwanda, Akagera National Park officials said on Monday.
According to them, this is the most important "transfer in history" for this endangered species.
Two days were needed to transport the behemoths, which can weigh up to two tons, over the 3,400 km separating the two countries.
Part of the trip was made by Boeing 747. "This project required extreme care and a lot of work," said the director general of the NGO African Parks, which co-manages Akagera park.
“The 30 rhinos had to arrive safe and healthy.
Do you guys remember me noticing a strange Boeing 747 fly over Durban on Saturday?
Well, super sleuth journo @matthewsavides connected the dots and noted that it was for the transport of THIRTY, yes ... THIRTY White Rhino to Rwanda!
- James Preston (@JamesPrestonZA) November 30, 2021
Rwanda, a "new stronghold" for the species
The operation cost around $ 1 million (900,000 euros) and involved 80 people, including vets and wildlife transport specialists.
The southern white rhino is now considered endangered with around 20,000 individuals worldwide, according to WWF.
It is classified as near threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
@https: //twitter.com/OhJoBails Heavy Lifting: Boeing 747 Enlisted To Fly 30 White Rhinos To Rwanda https://t.co/scOTPHopY4
- Greta Van Susteren (@greta) November 30, 2021
Its natural habitat is southern Africa, including South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
It was also introduced to Kenya to shield it from poaching, fueled by the demand for horn.
With this transfer, African Parks intends to establish a "new fiefdom" for the southern white rhinos.
“This will be the opportunity for them to grow up in a safe environment,” said the regional director of African Parks.
The 30 southern white rhinos were initially divided into two groups in small enclosures (the size of a football stadium anyway), rich in grass and water points.
The animals will then be released and monitored on a daily basis by a team which "will check their acclimatization, their safety and their well-being", detailed Arielle Kageruka, tourism manager of the Rwanda Development Board.
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