Breeding the Black Rhino back

In 2003, Dr Jacques Flamand was asked to draft a plan to address the lack of growth in the black rhino population. The black rhino is a notoriously slow breeder: cows only produce one calf every three to five years. They are also solitary animals and require a large amount of land to feel comfortable enough to breed. 

Through WWF SA (World Wide Fund for Nature South Africa), the Black Rhino Range Expansion project works to increase the range and numbers of the critically endangered black rhino population.  

At the time, poaching was not the core issue. In the decade or so since, the landscape has changed. The project works differently to other anti-rhino poaching nongovernmental organisations. “Our tack is to get [black rhino] to breed faster than they are poached,” says Flamand. “The solution is to create large enough areas of land to accommodate enough rhino.” 

In the beginning they created agreements to amalgamate area spaces of 20 000 hectares, the optimum area for rhino. Breeding rhino are then trans-located into the area, generally in populations of 20. 

“We introduce 20 at the same time, because newcomers would get killed by the more established rhino. By doing this, we are also able to bring different groups in from different reserves.” 

To create more space, landowners and conservation areas sign a custodian agreement, dropping fences and opening up neighbouring land to accommodate the growing population. 

Since 2003, 10 new populations have been created; 160 black rhino have been relocated to safer areas and more than 60 calves are growing to adulthood. The land that has been made available in the KwaZulu-Natal region has led to a significant increase and the rhino population now numbers 500. 

The custodian agreement asks landowners to assume responsibility for the rhino. With poaching at an all-time high, this has become a lot more difficult. “The long-term investment for landowners is that they will own half of each progeny. When the project started, it was easier to get people on board. Luckily, though, we are still getting people who wish to participate.”

Now it’s about finding more land to accommodate the growing population. “We’d started with the best land areas. Now we need new places. There isn’t any more land to buy, so we create more partnerships and facilitate neighbours coming together,” says Flamand. 

With the continual growth in black rhino population, the project also donates R1-million a year to anti-poaching units, to protect donor populations and the sites they breed in.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertisting

Stella set to retain her perks

Communication minister will keep Cabinet perks during her two months of special leave

Not a sweet deal, Mister

Mister Sweet workers say they will not risk their health, and the lives of others, to continue producing and packaging confectionaries

Covid-19 grounds Nigeria’s medical tourists

The country’s elites, including the president, travelled abroad for treatment but now they must use the country’s neglected health system

Nehawu launches urgent court bid over protective gear for health...

The health workers’ union says the government has rebuffed its attempts to meet about mitigating risks to workers

Press Releases

Rahima Moosa Hospital nursing college introduces no-touch facial recognition access system

The new system allows the hospital to enrol people’s faces immediately, using artificial intelligence, and integrates easily with existing access control infrastructure, including card readers and biometrics

Everyone’s talking about it. Even Kentucky

Earlier this year South African fried chicken fast-food chain, Chicken Licken®, launched a campaign for their wallet-friendly EasyBucks® meals, based on the idea of ‘Everyone’s talking about it.’

New energy mix on the cards

REI4P already has and will continue to yield thousands of employment opportunities

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world