Bringing Back the Rhinos

Integrating Rhinoceroses through a massive rewilding endeavor.



(Henrico Muller /

The conservation non-profit organization, African Parks, will release 2,000 southern white rhino into the wild across Africa. This marks the largest undertaking of rewilding of any species across a continent, according to an African Parks’ press release

These rhino were recently purchased from Platinum Rhino, a 19,000-acre breeding farm that was financially struggling, according to BBC News. The farm, located in South Africa’s North West Province, was put up for auction in April but there were no takers.  

A moral imperative
African Parks was approached and although they had no interest in such a purchase, they had a moral imperative to rescue the rhino. “African Parks had no intention of being the owner of a captive rhino breeding operation with 2,000 rhino. However, we fully recognise the moral imperative of finding a solution for these animals so that they can once again play their integral role in fully functioning ecosystems,” Peter Fearnhead, CEO of African Parks, said in the press release.

This is important work. As a result of poaching, there are only 18,000 of this species alive and they are classified as being near-threatened. In the 1930s, there were only 30 to 40 left in the world. Thanks to protection and conservation, the number of southern white rhino has risen. 

Today, there are 18,000 living in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Kenya. Unfortunately, their cousin, the northern white rhino, is considered extinct, with only two females remaining alive in in Kenya.

Under the circumstances, African Parks represents the best solution to this conservation dilemma. They presently work with 12 governments and operate 22 wildlife conservation parks across the African continent.   

“I think it’s a courageous move on the part of African Parks,” John Scanlon, a former special envoy for African Parks and former secretary general of CITES, told National Geographic

Giving rhinos their best chance
“When lands are well-managed, relocated animals can be kept secure from poachers and have strong survival numbers. African Parks will give the animals their best chance,” Scanlon added.

The acquisition also included hippos, giraffes, sheep, and other animals. African Parks will keep on all existing staff as well as the security operation from Platinum Rhino, including helicopter patrols and armed game rangers with guard dogs. These are all necessary to protect the rhinos from poachers. 

The organization has experience in operating protected area and in translocating animals, according to the African Parks’ press release. In the past, they have returned the rhino to Malawi, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

It will be a challenging project. Poaching risks aside, translocating animals has other dangers including drought, disease, and food scarcity, according to National Geographic. 

“The scale of this undertaking is simply enormous, and therefore daunting. However, it is equally one of the most exciting and globally strategic conservation opportunities,” Fearnhead said in the press release.

Once this rewilding project becomes reality, the hope is that the southern white rhino population will increase and they can once again roam freely across Africa. 

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