AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK, Rwanda: Thirty white rhinos from South Africa were flown by conservationists to Akagera National Park in Rwanda, in the largest single relocation ever organized.
The relocation of the rhinos was conducted by non-profit conservation organization African Parks, the Rwanda Development Board and the And Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve, funded by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.
After the journey of some 2,000 miles, it is hoped the rhinos can establish a new breeding stronghold and evade poachers.
"Introductions to safe, intact wild landscapes are vital for the future of vulnerable species like the white rhino, which are under considerable human-induced pressures," said Peter Fearnhead, CEO of African Parks, in a statement.
White rhinos are considered "near threatened" by the World Wildlife Fund, which estimates they number some 18,000 in protected areas and private game reserves, with their decline largely attributed to poaching and the demand for rhino horns.
The 30 rhinos that arrived in Rwanda were fitted with tracking transmitters for constant monitoring, and authorities also deployed an anti-poaching canine unit and helicopter surveillance to protect them.
They will also be monitored daily by veterinarians and other specialists, while settling into their news lives at Akagera, where officials hope they will remain safe.
"This is an opportunity for Rwanda to substantially advance its contribution to rhino conservation, with Akagera poised to become a globally important sanctuary for black and now white rhinoceros," said Ariella Kageruka of the Rwanda Development Board, as quoted by npr.org.
The And Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve in South Africa, where the rhinos originated from, has been managing and growing its rhino population for more than 30 years.