„One of the roles of a modern zoo is to return animals back to the wild and help them to survive in their natural habitat. It is one of the ways how to prevent the species from extinction,“ describes the significance of such conservation projects Přemysl Rabas, Statutory Director of ZOO Dvur Kralove.
The transport of three-year-old Eliska is arranged in cooperation with DHL company for Sunday 26th June. The dedicated boeing B757 is prepared just for Eliska, her veterinary escort, aircrew and several tons of feed.
“We were very excited to have the opportunity to transport this beautiful animal home to Africa and to play our part in these critical efforts to help revive endangered Eastern black rhino populations,“ said Ken Allen, CEO, DHL Express.
The transport will be launched on Sunday morning by the transfer of Eliska from the ZOO Dvůr Králové to the Leipzig Airport from where she will head for the Kilimanjaro Airport. When she reaches Tanzania, five hour drive to her new home in Mkomazi National Park will follow. After a successful acclimatization, Eliska will join the local black rhino group transported from ZOO Dvur Kralove in 2009.
“The rhinos that were transferred to Mkomazi from the ZOO Dvur Kralove in 2009 have been doing pretty well here. Female Deborah even gave birth to two calves,“ said Tony Fitzjohn who runs the rhino sanctuary in Mkomazi. „I am delighted that Eliska will arrive soon. We have achieved very good results in cooperation with ZOO Dvůr Králové so far and Eliska will definitely help us to strengthen one of the only three rhino populations in Tanzania,“ added Fitzjohn.
The transport is supported by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic Lubomír Zaorálek, British Ambassador to Prague, Ms Jan Thompson, Vietnamese pop star Thu Minh, model Monika Leová and also by those who donated funds to the WILDLIFE account which helps to finance the ZOO Dvur Kralove conservation projects.
ZOO Dvur Kralove is one of the most successful breeders of black rhinos in captivity. 43 calves have been born in the zoo so far, all of them of eastern subspecies. Eliska was born to female Etosha in September 2012.
The Mkomazi National Park is a spectacular wilderness in northern Tanzania. Within sight to the northwest is Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest summit of Africa. To the south, the Pare and Usumbara Mountains form a dramatic backdrop and, to the north, Kenyan vast Tsavo National Park shares a border with Mkomazi, making common ground for migratory herds of elephant, oryx and zebra during the wet season. Together with Tsavo, it forms one of the largest and most important protected ecosystems on Earth. It is a classic dry-country reserve of grey-green nyika bush, ancient baobab trees and isolated rocky hills. Giraffe, oryx, gerenuk, hartebeest, lesser kudu, eland, impala and Grants gazelle share the reserve with elephant, buffalo, and numerous predators, including lion, leopard and cheetah. By 1988, Mkomazi was in steep decline. But then Tanzania Government invited legendary conservationist Tony Fitzjohn and his supporting George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust to work with them on a program of habitat restoration and the reintroduction of endangered species. The captive-breeding program for the African Wild Dog has been established, and a rhino sanctuary has been constructed and stocked. The result has been one of spectacular success. One of the most fragile, threatened and beautiful parts of Africa has been reborn.