Flamingo Land to Rwanda: Black Rhino Olmoti

saving endangered black rhinoceros main

Another high-profile Extinction Rebellion protest has been planned for May 2020, with the group pledging to adjust their controversial tactics and build an entire narrative around their demands for change.

It’s hoped that this will put the challenges posed by climate change into context, with issues such as the mass extinction of various species across the globe yet to enter the mainstream narrative.

Fortunately, outlets such as Flamingo Land in Yorkshire remain informed and committed to safeguarding the future of some species, particularly the endangered black rhinoceros. But how successful have these efforts have been, and who have been the key players in this drive?

The Endangered Black Rhinoceros and the Efforts to Save Them

In recent times, Flamingo Land in North Yorkshire has become one of the key players in the global conservation efforts to save the black rhinoceros, which has been classed as critically endangered for several years now.

As part of this concerted and collaborative drive, this award winning zoo and sanctuary recently sent a female rhinoceros on a year-long expedition to Rwanda’s Akagera National Park, as she is prepared for her release back into the wild.

After spending her entire life in captivity, four-year old Olmoti will make her new home in the country of her origin, within a sprawling, 112-hectare domain encompassing swamps, woodlands and a savannah that’s also home to species such as lions, zebras and similarly endangered elephants.

This 12-month journey saw Olmoti first travel from Kirby Misperton in Yorkshire to Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic, which already has a rich history in returning rhinos back to their home in Africa.

saving endangered black rhinoceros transit

Black rhinos in transit as part of the conservation project

There, she met four other black rhinos who will accompany here on the final leg of her return home, with each animal carefully selected to ensure continuing genetic diversity within the park’s existing population.

Thanks to this and similar efforts, the black rhino population has managed to increase since the mid-90s, when this beautiful species first became endangered.

More specifically, the total number of black rhinos has recently increased to 5,000, from a paltry 2,410 back in 1995. These efforts have also been driven by the WWF, which is continuing to take decisive conservation action in three large African rhino range nations, namely Namibia, Kenya and South Africa.

Then and Now – A Look Back Similar Projects in the Past

As we’ve already touched on, the return of Olmoti was part of a global drive, and one that was built on an unprecedented partnership between the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), the Rwandan Government and Africa Parks.

This will see five black rhinos return to the wild at some point in 2020, where they will be free to breed and add to a total population that has continued to grow incrementally against a backdrop of endangerment and significant external threats.

Interestingly, this is only the latest project of this type to hit the headlines, with a total of 19 black rhinos returned to the wilds of Rwanda back in 2017.

This vast project involved the input of transport specialist Intradco Global and Chapman Freeborn, a specialist aviation and cargo expert with a history of humanitarian and conservation projects.

On behalf of African Parks, which is a conservation non-profit that manages national parks and protected areas across the continent, two Boeing 777 freighters were commissioned to transport a staggering 19 black rhinos from Johannseburg to Kigali (the Rwandan capital).

This project involved two flights containing 10 and nine rhinos respectively, each of which was transported into a specially-crafted pallet that contained their feed for the journey.

Make no mistake; this represented a huge logistical challenge, with each rhino weighing up to 2,500kg and requiring considerable care and attention during the journey.

This type of project also shows how international collaboration can help to preserve endangered species across the globe, at a time when so many animals are bearing the brunt of climate change and a host of additional issues.


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