According to a statement released by African Parks, the exercise has been touted to be one of the largest black rhino translocation exercises to date.
“Based on a custodianship agreement signed between the Governments of Malawi and South Africa, the aim is to boost Malawi’s black rhino populations and aid regional efforts to conserve the critically endangered species,” reads the statement in part.
Black rhinos face extinction as they are heavily poached for their horn. According to internet sources poachers have a ready black market in China and Vietnam where it is used in traditional medicine, despite China banning the trade as early as 1993.
Speaking after witnessing the arrival of the 17 black rhinos and release of the same in the wild, Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Bintony Kutsaira said the translocation of the 17 black rhinos is a big boost to the tourism industry in the country.
“On behalf of His Excellency Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, I would like to express Government’s gratitude to the Republic of South Africa for this timely gift of 17 black rhinos. For sure this partnership will be cultivated further for the good of the tourism industry in the country.
“I assure all stakeholders that we will jealously guard these black rhinos. Let me sound this strong warning to poachers. Once found trespassing, the law will take its course. The coming in of soldiers who are making their drills nearby has strengthened security around here and internally they have an electric fence plus well equipped rangers who are continuously patrolling the park,” said Kutsaira.
On his part Peter Fernhead, Chief executive officer and co-founder of African Parks said the rhino re-population exercise in Liwonde National Park will boost numbers of the species as currently the figures are too small.
“In order for rhinos to thrive there’s need for a minimum size of population. The numbers here in Liwonde are too small so by bringing supplementary animals we will increase the headcount and that will be perfect for breeding. Liwonde, Majete and Nkhotakota are one of the safest parks in Africa and the world. If these animals are not safe here then they are not safe anywhere but it is our hope they will be safe,” said Fernhead.
In an earlier Interview during the translocation of elephants from Majete and Liwonde National Parks to Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, Brighton Kumchedwa, Director in the Department of National Parks and Wildlife said African Parks is doing a commendable job as far as wildlife conservation and tourism is concerned in the country.
Kutsaira sharing some tips with African Parks officials
He said: “Malawi's tourism is nature dependent. Tourism contributes about 7% to Malawi's GDP. So, African Parks has also created a very good platform for sharing experiences and coordinating efforts in the fight against wildlife crime. Together with African Parks we have taken extraordinary measures to restore ecological processes and increase tourism. This is really a win win for both people and wildlife.”
The key partners engaged in this project include: Malawi’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), World Wide Fund South Africa (WWF) and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. The translocation was made possible with the support of Stitching Natura Africae, Vale Logistics and Save the Rhino International.
To date Majete Wildlife Reserve under the management of African Parks has a complete set of the big five (lions, elephants, leopards, buffalo and rhinoceros).
African Parks officials sedating a black rhino that was charging
into the wild