It’s a staggering realization that something that tips a scale upwards of 2 tons, can run up to 40 mph and appears as powerful as ordnance is considered vulnerable in any way. Yet the confirmation that the Black Rhinoceros is officially extinct in West Africa says just that.
Unfortunate human activity has brought the species to this precipice, and the irony is that it may only take an equal and opposing human activity to pull at least other members of the family back. Seth had written about the concept of managed relocation in the past, and in some cases the “jury is still out” on its effectiveness and ethicality. The challenge of the black rhino is that it requires a huge territory, nearly 14,000 acres according to Jacques Flamand, the man who heads the WWF’s black rhino project. This type of scale creates serious security concerns when it comes to poaching. But with the horrifying rise of rhino poaching in South Africa the case of moving remaining populations to safer areas doesn’t appear to be a matter of debate.
So once relocation receives the thumbs up, then comes the challenge of how to transport the enormous creatures without causing undue stress. Taking a page from military and rescue operations, 19 rhinos were transported by helicopter and vehicle nearly 1,600 kilometers from South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province.
Biodiversity rarely has a downside and re-establishing a species in ecosystems where they previously thrived and protecting them from poachers can only help the other animals that share those habitats. The goal may be high, but it’s far from impossible.