Overview
 

The Eastern Black Rhino Project

Deborah, Jamie and Jabu arrived at Kilimanjaro international airport in Tanzania. A 747 cargo aircraft touched down with its precious cargo around 9am on the morning of the 30th May 2009. It was an emotional experience seeing the doors opening exposing the three crates.

 
 
Project Detail

In September 2007 Hamish Currie took Zoo Dvur Kralove director Dr Dana Holeckova and Dr Martin Smrcek to Tanzania to explore the possibility of reintroducing Eastern Black Rhino (Diceros bicornis michaeli) from the zoo to Mkomazi National Park in north eastern Tanzania. Mkomazi is managed by Tony Fitzjohn. Tony Fitzjohn met again with Hamish Currie and Dana Holeckova in Cape Town in June 2008 where an agreement was reached to transfer three rhinos to Mkomazi.

Endangered Black Rhino
From a population of over 10,000 in the mid-1970s, only about 29 Black Rhinos exist today in Tanzania, with less than 2800 left in Africa. Most of the horn from eastern Africa gets smuggled by traders into Yemen where it is made into ornamental handles for daggers (jambiyas) while horn from rhino poached in southern Africa makes its way to the Far East where it is used in traditional medicine. Poachers remain the biggest threat to Black Rhino.

Mkomazi Game Reserve
Rhino sanctuaries like the one at Mkomazi are absolutely essential to the survival of the species. The 30-square-mile compound is surrounded by an eight-foot-high electrified and alarmed fence and is patrolled around the clock by armed guards. It took five years to build at a cost of $500,000.00. Home to a founder population of eight rhinos and the first sanctuary of its kind in Tanzania, it was stocked by airlifting the rhinos, of a subspecies indigenous to the area, from Addo National Park in South Africa at great expense. Their results to date prove beyond doubt that they refuse to allow the vanity and superstitions of a tiny minority to deprive the world of this unique and glorious creature.

Established by the Tanzanian Government in 1951, the Mkomazi Game Reserve encompasses over 1200 square miles (3,276 sq. km) in northeast Tanzania. Adjacent to Kenya’s Tsavo National Park, together they comprise one of the largest protected wilderness ecosystems in Africa.

In 1988, with Mkomazi on the brink of ecological disaster due to overgrazing, burning, indiscriminate hunting and poaching, the Tanzanian Government initiated a program of habitat rehabilitation and endangered species reintroduction, with the goal of re-establishing a viable ecosystem directly linked to Tsavo. The Mkomazi Project achieved National Priority Project status.

Tony Fitzjohn/George Adamson African Wildlife Preservation Trust
In 1989, a request came from the Tanzanian Government to the Tony Fitzjohn/George Adamson African Wildlife Preservation Trust and Tony Fitzjohn to work in partnership with them in the rehabilitation of the reserve and to initiate crucial endangered species programmes at a later date. In 2005, the Mkomazi Game Reserve was declared a National Park by the Tanzanian government in Parliament, and the process is underway for TANAPA to take over Mkomazi. This is a great boost for its continued survival as a protected ecosystem well into the future and is the highest protection an area can be afforded in Tanzania.

30 May 2009
Deborah, Jamie and Jabu arrived at Kilimanjaro international airport in Tanzania. A 747 cargo aircraft touched down with its precious cargo around 9am on the morning of the 30th. It was an emotional experience seeing the doors opening exposing the three crates.

Accompanying the rhinos was Back to Africa director Dr Peter Morkel who is a world-renowned authority on Black Rhino. To meet them on the tarmac was Tony Fitzjohn of Mkomazi and Back to Africa’s Hamish Currie. Deborah, Jamie and Jabu underwent weeks of crate training at the zoo with zoo keepers from Zoo Dvur Kralove and “rhino whisperer” Berry White from the UK. They were loaded onto three separate trucks for a five and a half hour road journey to Mkomazi. A large delegation was there to meet them at Mkomazi. This included government officials, press reporters, embassy personnel and excited staff of Mkomazi National Park.

Jamie was the first to be released into his boma but he would have nothing of it. More than an hour passed and only after much coaxing from his keeper, tempting him with Czech bread and apples, did he take his first steps on African soil. The next day all three were chewing Tanzanian raisin bush almost in preference to the best quality lucerne. The three will spend a few weeks in the bomas before being gradually released into a larger holding area and will then become part of Mkomazi’s Black Rhino breeding programme, reinforcing the existing population of Black Rhino in the park.

 

Back to Operations

 
   
  Become a Friend

  Support Us
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   
 
 
 
 
         
HOME   Copyright © 2012 Back To Africa. All rights reserved.
OPERATIONS
LATEST NEWS
PERSONNEL
GALLERY
ARCHIVES
FRIENDS
FUNDING
CONTACT