Rhino translocation project launched in Cameroon

Image copyright Gordon Ross Image caption A team of specialists and translocation experts travel on a private plane North American conservationists are transporting the largest ever selection of white rhinos to a new home…

Rhino translocation project launched in Cameroon

Image copyright Gordon Ross Image caption A team of specialists and translocation experts travel on a private plane

North American conservationists are transporting the largest ever selection of white rhinos to a new home in a game park in Cameroon.

Cameroon had agreed to take a range of 17 white rhinos to the Terre Rouge Wildlife Sanctuary (TFWS) from the Pachamama sanctuary in New Zealand.

But translocation mission costs are estimated at $9.5m (£7.7m) and about 140 translocation experts – 200 animals total – have been involved.

At the biggest white rhino farm in the world, hundreds of the animals are run intensively.

Last year, six white rhinos gave birth to eight joeys and 24 adults in Pachamama and 26 infants to 14 adult rhinos at North Island Station in New Zealand.

However, with 41 white rhinos in captivity, the New Zealand sanctuary was already considered to be undersized.

Last year, the non-profit organisation Symbiosis Foundation (SF) of Christchurch, New Zealand, also set up a project to raise the funding to relocate 10 white rhinos from New Zealand to New Caledonia on the Pacific island of New Caledonia and also to the TFWS.

The last white rhino in the wild, in a protected area in Nepal, is due to die within the next month or two.

Conservationists are still trying to breed white rhinos back from extinction due to hunting, habitat loss and unregulated trade.

Image copyright Thinkstock Image caption The rhinos are taking a three-day journey on board a Russian private plane

Within Asia, there are less than 1,000 of the Asian-style rhino, which has a similar profile to the woolly rhino of Europe, and the species has existed in Asia for about 14,000 years.

Awhite rhino is only found in South Africa.

The animals, at between 8 and 10 years old, now consume about a third of the lives of their own offspring.

The 17 animals moving to the TFWS will be placed in 10 separate areas – a high conservation value area of 500 square metres, an area of 10 square kilometres (3.8 square miles) for the most vulnerable species and an area of 10.2 square kilometres (4.6 square miles) for all other rhinos.

“As a long-term local resident I felt it was important to get involved and help the black rhino to receive veterinary support and help rebuild the number of rhinos,” said pilot Grant Bielenberg, 37, of Christchurch.

“I will still be active in improving the lives of all local black rhinos and Rhinos I will be involved in the SRWZR process.”

This is the largest translocation operation in terms of numbers.

Although, it is not a completely new move. Last month six black rhinos were moved from Zimbabwe to Kenya, while in 2000, four white rhinos from Namibia were transported to an airport in New Zealand, which had expertise in air-transporting large animals.

The consultant on the 2015 move, Dr James Whitaker, said the DREAM of research and helping to save these animals was what inspired him to carry out the work.

“We helped to discover the unique genetic research needs of the black rhino, a animal with a reduced population size compared to the white rhino.

“In focusing on them I felt we were making a difference,” said Dr Whitaker.

The white rhino translocation at TFSW is taking place from 19 February to 5 March.

There will be no media coverage of the move.

– With BBC, Agence France-Presse, Agence Press and AP.

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