A $7 million conservation project will return 20 male and 12 female black rhinos to Tanzania over the next two years. Tanzania reportedly only has 70 rhinos left. The rhino conservation project also aims to improve and protect their habitats in Serengeti, Ngorongoro and Maasai Mara National Parks. Serengeti National Park covers 5,700 square miles and is home to 200,000 zebra, but very few rhinos remain due to poaching. So far five of the black rhinos have been flown to Tanzania with batches of six at a time to come soon. The rhinos returning to Tanzania were in South Africa because they were in so much danger in their homeland from poaching during the 1960s, some of them were moved to a safer location. Flying a rhino is no easy feat, as each one can weigh 2,000 pounds.
An official for the Minister of Tourism and Natural resources Shamsha Mwangunga, remarked that the rhinos will be safe from poachers due to extra safety measures. Their current program has caught 43 poachers so far. In addition, a special unit of 23 rangers has been assembled to protect the relocated rhinos.
The Grumeti Community and Wildlife Conservation Fund is one of the partners in the rhino relocation project. In the 1960s the black rhino population there was diminished perilously to only 42. The new relocation project may be the largest ever.
The first phase of the project was to tackle the poaching problem. There would be no point of reintroducing the animals merely for them to be killed by poachers. Now that poaching has been decreased, the extremely rare animals can be kept in private areas and closely monitored. The Grumeti Fund has been involved with increasing the populations of Thomson’s gazelles, elands, and buffalo in the region. Hopefully their knowledge of stewardship gained with those victories can be applied equally successfully to the rhinos.