Endangered rhinos flourish in South African wildlife park

HLUHLUWE-IMFOLOZI GAME RESERVE, South Africa -- During the rescue of a South African rhino calf whose mother was killed by poachers, six heavily perspiring men squeezed the sedated orphan into a helicopter whose seats and doors had been removed to make more space, according to a witness account.

See Full Article

The rhino's behind stuck out of the aircraft a bit, but the improvised airlift in February was a success.

Days later, an Associated Press team saw the jittery calf trotting around a holding pen at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi, a wildlife area whose tradition as a rhino refuge contrasts with an otherwise grim picture in which rhinos have been slaughtered in increasing numbers to meet demand for their horns in parts of Asia, especially Vietnam.

The disoriented calf, which collided noisily with an enclosure door at one point, could spend a couple of years under human care until it is resilient enough to return to the wild. It is the guest of conservationists whose predecessors, many decades ago, chased darted rhinos through thorny bush on horseback, or noosed them while speeding alongside the galloping beasts in open trucks.

The storied history at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi, the last redoubt of southern white rhinos a century ago and then a gene pool for distribution of surplus rhinos elsewhere in Africa and in Western zoos and parks, is a source of hope among groups struggling for a formula to curb poaching. In the late 19th century, there were estimated to be fewer than 100 of that type of rhino because of uncontrolled hunting, posing a crisis comparable in some ways to today's challenge.

"They were where we are now -- in dire straits, with their backs against the wall," said Werner Myburgh, chief executive officer of the Peace Parks Foundation, a group that promotes cross-border conservation areas.

Today, there are about 20,000 southern white rhinos, most of them in South Africa. There are only three northern white rhinos left in the world, living at a Kenyan conservancy. The critically endangered black rhinos number about 5,000. Other kinds of threatened rhinos live in parts of Asia.

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi, formerly split into two parks, transfers roughly 100 rhinos annually, many going to other conservation areas or private farms, said Cedric Coetzee, manager of rhino security in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province, which includes the park.

"We're still in a sustainable model here," Coetzee said.

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi was among the first areas in Africa where wildlife was formally protected in the late 19th century, and had also been a former royal Zulu hunting ground with some restrictions on the killing of animals.

"It's one area where we all meet together," Coetzee said. "It's got steep, steep traditions in Zulu history and it's got steep, steep traditions in white history as well."

The park is under less pressure from infiltration than South Africa's Kruger National Park, which is particularly vulnerable because it borders Mozambique, where many rhino poaching teams are based.

Still, the threat looms. Poachers killed 24 rhinos in KwaZulu-Natal province as of Feb. 25 this year, an increase of 16 per cent over the same period in 2015. Nationwide, poachers killed 1,175 rhinos in South Africa in 2015, down 40 from the previous year, according to the government.

The facility in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi park where the white rhino calf was taken after its helicopter ride can house several dozen rhinos. On a recent afternoon, two black rhino calves snacked on leaves and one approached visitors at a barrier, seemingly content to be patted on its head.

The man credited with saving southern white rhinos is Ian Player, the late South African conservationist and brother of golfer Gary Player who pioneered rhino capture and relocation methods in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi area, starting in the late 1950s. He worked closely with Zulu tracker Maqgubu Ntombela in a relationship that defied the racial divisions of the era's white minority rule.

"There's a lot of good energy" at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi, said Coetzee, the rhino security manager.



Advertisements

Latest Tech & Science News

  • New Zealand law student launches climate change court case

    Tech & Science CTV News
    WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- A New Zealand law student is taking the government to court over its climate change policies in hopes of forcing it to set more ambitious targets. Sarah Thomson is challenging the government over commitments that include a pledge under the Paris climate accord to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. Source
  • SpaceX launches 10 satellites from California air base

    Tech & Science CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- A SpaceX rocket carried 10 communications satellites into orbit from California on Sunday, two days after the company successfully launched a satellite from Florida. The Falcon 9 rocket blasted off through low-lying fog at 1:25 p.m. Source
  • Why this conservation group thinks soiled undies are a good thing

    Tech & Science CTV News
    One of the best things about summer is the fresh selection of fruits and vegetables available throughout the warm months. But a strange crop with far less nutritional value has a Canadian conservation group excited for the season. Source
  • Rising right whale death toll could be "catastrophic": marine biologist

    Tech & Science CTV News
    MONCTON, N.B. - A marine mammal expert says the fate of critically endangered species could hang in the balance as the death toll of North Atlantic right whales found floating in the Gulf of St. Source
  • Giant sequoia move on schedule in Idaho, tree doing well

    Tech & Science CTV News
    BOISE, Idaho -- A massive Idaho tree that grew over more than a century from a seedling sent by a noted naturalist has been uprooted and is poised to travel about two blocks Sunday to a new location. Source
  • Medical marijuana woos four-legged fans

    Tech & Science CTV News
    It's early morning, just after breakfast, and six-year-old Cayley is wide awake, eagerly anticipating her daily dose of cannabis. The black labrador, tail wagging, laps up the liquid tincture owner Brett Hartmann squirts into her mouth, a remedy he uses morning and evening to help alleviate Cayley's anxiety. Source
  • Fisheries Dept. dispatches aircraft, boats to study right whale deaths

    Tech & Science CTV News
    MONCTON, N.B. - Fisheries officials are trying to figure out what caused the recent deaths of several endangered right whales in the waters off eastern Canada. The Fisheries Department is raising concern about the deaths of at least five North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Source
  • Surge in unexplained right whale deaths prompts government response

    Tech & Science CTV News
    MONCTON, N.B. -- The federal fisheries department is trying to figure out what caused the recent deaths of several endangered right whales in the waters off eastern Canada. A fisheries official says at least five North Atlantic right whales were found dead in the Gulf of St. Source
  • Panda mania hits Germany as Meng Meng, Jiao Qing arrive

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Germany was bracing for panda mania as furry ambassadors arrive from China on Saturday, destined for a new life as stars of Berlin's premier zoo. The pair, named Meng Meng and Jiao Qing, will be jetting in on a special Lufthansa cargo plane, accompanied by two Chinese panda specialists, the Berlin Zoo's chief vet and a tonne of bamboo. Source
  • Google to stop scanning Gmail for ad targeting

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Google said Friday it would stop scanning the contents of Gmail users' inboxes for ad targeting, moving to end a practice that has fueled privacy concerns since the free email service was launched. A Google statement said Gmail users would still see "personalized" ads and marketing messages but these would be based on other data, which may include search queries or browsing habits. Source