With its sturdy build, menacing horn and impenetrable hide, it is hard to imagine that the fate of the rhinoceros – one of the iconic Big Five – hangs in such a delicate balance. Over the past several decades, the rhino population in the Serengeti ecosystem has suffered greatly due to poaching, with rhino numbers decreasing from 1,000 to less than 70 individuals.
In an effort to save the rhinos from extinction, seven Eastern Black Rhino were transported from East Africa in 1961 to a private reserve in South Africa. The rhinos thrived in this protected area with their numbers quadrupling during their long-term visit.
In an extraordinary conservation effort, 32 rhino – descendants of the seven transplants – will be reintroduced to the Serengeti over the next two years. Last month, the first five were flown into the Seronera area and received a warm Tanzanian welcome.
In order to protect the newly introduced rhinos, radio-transmitters will be implanted in their horns and they will be guarded around the clock by specially-trained rangers, the Serengeti Rhino Protection Unit (SRPU).