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The critically endangered black rhino continued to expand into its historical range when a founder population of 13 animals was released on to a new home in Limpopo province recently. The animals form the sixth founder population created through the WWF/ Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Black Rhino Range Expansion Project.

“All went well with the translocation and release,” said WWF project leader Dr Jacques Flamand. “The new area had a lot of rain soon after we released which means there will be good browse and water. The animals have settled well after spending a few days exploring the area.”

The recent surge in rhino poaching underlines the importance of conservation initiatives like the Black Rhino Range Expansion Project, Dr Flamand explained. “There are two sides to good rhino conservation. One is intensive security for existing populations. The other is managing to make sure that your population grows as fast as possible. If you do not manage for high population growth rate, then effectively over time you are losing a lot of animals that could have been born. Rapid population growth rate can mean the difference between survival and extinction for a critically endangered species.”

98 black rhino have been translocated through the Black Rhino Range Expansion Project so far, and at least 26 calves have been born on project sites. One site already has 11 calves, and 10 calves have been born in 2010.

There are currently about 4500 black rhino left in Africa, up from the lowest point of about 2100 in the early 1990s. Black rhino have a reputation for being bad-tempered but in fact are just shy and nervous of strangers. New research suggests they have social structures that were previously not recognised.

The Black Rhino Range Expansion Project aims to increase land available for black rhino conservation, thereby increasing numbers of this critically endangered species. This is done by forming partnerships with landowners with large areas of black rhino habitat. Usually several landowners agree to remove internal fences in order to create large enough areas to hold a significant population of black rhino. The Project also supports security measures on important black rhino source populations.

The Black Rhino Range Expansion Project is a partnership between WWF and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, and is supported by the Mazda Wildlife Fund.

This short film was made possible by funding from Mazda:

Driven by the spirit of commitment Mazda reach out far beyond our vehicles, showrooms and factories, by nurturing our nation's wildlife through the Mazda Wildlife Fund. We are dedicated to protecting and preserving our rich and irreplaceable heritage. Since 1990, we've invested over R26 million into the Fund, and are committed to a future investment of R1,5 million per year, contributing towards a multitude of scientific endeavours critical for the survival of our planet in areas such as education, conservation and research. Currently Mazda Wildlife Fund supports 30 non-government and non-profit organization projects with 30 vehicles, covering aspect of conservation, research and environmental education. This year we have decided to take this commitment a step further by creating media content that profiles our organizations to help generate awareness and support around the admirable work that they are doing.

Mazda Wildlife Fund -

contact Dr Jacques Flamand -

or for information about the film production -

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