It is with deep regret that we announce the cancellation by Frankfurt Zoo to move two black rhinos (Kalusho and Tsororo) to the Mkhaya  Game Reserve in the Kingdom of Swaziland.

These precious animals are sub species Diceros bicornis minor that originate from the Zambezi valley in Zimbabwe. There is no breeding program for these animals in Europe so they will spend the rest of their lives in captivity with no opportunity to play a positive conservation role for the species. Their Zambezi genes are critical in the Swaziland black rhino conservation effort.

The negotiations were fraught with indecision by the zoo from the start. Frankfurt cancelled the project on many occasions. An official statement was issued by the zoo director Prof Manfred Niekisch in November 2012 which stated, “there is no change whatsoever with regard to our continuing commitment to this project and the specifications as laid down in the MOU signed by Mick Reilly (Big Game Parks Swaziland), Hamish Currie (Back to Africa), James Marshal (sponsor) and myself in 2012”.

This resulted in a boma facility being built specifically for the habituation of zoo rhinos in Swaziland at the cost of thousands of US dollars. Habituating rhinos held in captive facilities for an extended period requires considerable expertise and infrastructure to guarantee a successful reintroduction. Back to Africa also incurred considerable expense and time during the course of the negotiations. The zoo refuses to offer compensation to the affected parties.

The translocation of these rhinos to Africa would not only have supplemented a worthy conservation project but also eased the huge constraints zoos such as Frankfurt have with regards to providing suitable space for such megafauna. These rhinos are destined to live out their last days in grossly inadequate facilities.

Frankfurt Zoo is one of Europe’s iconic zoological institutions closely aligned with the Frankfurt Zoological Society that play a proactive role in conservation projects in many African countries – the latter of which played no role in the negotiations to translocate these black rhinos.  


Hamish Currie director Back to Africa


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