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Following a meeting of the Board of South African National Parks (SANParks), held on Wednesday, 26th November 2014, SANParks has announced the successful completion of the first phase of the Strategic Rhino Translocation Programme.
In terms of this Programme a number of rhino are being moved out of poaching hotspots in the Kruger National Park to safer destinations either inside the Park or outside the Park. The focus of the first phase has been on the capture and translocation of rhino from areas of high poaching activity to the safer areas within the Kruger National Park. These are areas where an additional deployment of resources and technology provides a more secure environment for the rhino.
A total of 29 rhino have been moved in the course of October and November from the hotspots into safer areas within the Kruger National Park. Of these 17 have been fitted with tracking devices and have been successfully tracked subsequent to their release. Based on observations through the monitoring programme it has been reported that the translocated rhino have integrated well with the resident populations in the areas to which they have been moved. It has been further reported that none of the rhino translocated have thus far been poached.
According to Mr Kuseni Dlamini, Chairperson of the SANParks Board, “It is early days, but our initial reports are that the rhino translocated within the Kruger National Park are safe and have settled well. As one element among others in our multi-faceted strategy to combat rhino poaching, we are greatly encouraged by the initial outcomes. The capture and translocation of these rhino went off without a hitch, and we would like to congratulate our game capture team for the professional manner in which they have conducted this operation”.
Apart from those rhino moved within the Kruger National Park, there have also been a number of rhino moved to other national parks and reserves, where better security can be provided. This aspect of the programme is on-going and further animals will be moved in the course of 2015. Through moving rhino to protected areas in other parts of the country, SANParks is supporting the establishment and growth of viable rhino populations in a number of protected areas apart from the Kruger National Park.
The rhino sales component of the programme is also at an advanced stage. The sale of rhino from the Kruger National Park has been initiated with a call for bids having been placed in the national media. Upon closure of the time frame for bids on 15 October 2014, a total number of twenty (20) bid proposals plus two (02) late bids were received. A screening of the received proposals in line with the advertised bid mandatory requirements has been concluded. The Bid Evaluation Committee has completed the Best Price Principle Assessment. The bid process is still under the technical evaluation phase, including site evaluations, but an outcome is expected in the near future. The sale of rhino by SANParks to private landowners, who comply with all security and habitat requirements, is part of the overall strategy to support the growth of viable populations in a range of areas in order to provide a basis for securing the protection and growth of the rhino meta-population in Southern Africa.