Zakouma National Park in Chad welcomed five black rhinos arriving to join the remaining pair that had lived in isolation for over five years. This move aims to reintroduce a western black rhino population to Chad. The species faced local extinction over four decades ago.

The journey began in May 2018, when a translocation effort led by African Parks brought six critically endangered black rhinos from South Africa to Zakouma National Park. Four of the rhinos succumbed shortly after their release, leaving two rhinos.

African Parks conducted extensive feasibility studies involving experts in the translocation process. This week’s arrival of five new black rhinos from Limpopo, South Africa, marks an effort to reestablish a sustainable rhino population in Chad, encompassing a mix of black rhino subspecies for enhanced genetic diversity.

The journey covered 4,400 kilometres, with stops in Zambia and Burundi, facilitated by a C130 military aircraft, taking 36 hours. The rhinos currently settle into their enclosures, prepared for their acclimatisation to the new environment.

Originally, six black rhinos were intended for the move. One bull, exhibiting a history of depression, was excluded from the translocation process.

The western black rhinoceros were native to Zakouma until 1972. Then they faced near-extinction primarily due to poaching. Park manager Cyril Pélissier expressed his commitment to rectifying past mistakes and securing a more stable future for these majestic creatures. He highlighted that the recent translocation provides a second chance for the black rhino species in Chad.

Black rhinos, native to eastern and southern Africa, are critically endangered, with only 6,487 individuals across the continent in 2022. Despite ongoing conservation efforts, poaching remains a threat, with at least 561 rhinos falling victim to poachers in 2022.

Zakouma National Park witnessed a 95% decline in its elephant population between 2002 and 2010. However, recent years have seen a 40% increase in Zakouma’s elephant population since 2010.

Security remains a priority in Zakouma, with robust anti-poaching measures in place for over a decade. Chad has made commendable progress in curbing elephant poaching, with no reported incidents in Zakouma for approximately seven years.