Next Step for Rhinos in Rwanda: Releasing from Bomas

At the end of June 2019, Safari Park Dvůr Králové on behlaf of European Association of Zoos and Aquaria transported five critically endangered black rhinos to Rwanda to help set up a new genetically diverse rhino population in the country. In recent days, all five have been successfully released into larger enclosures where they started to feed on natural vegetation.

The male Manny was released first, on Monday. “After a while he started to taste the local vegetation,” says zoologist Jiří Hrubý, who oversees the release of animals directly in Rwanda.

The female Jasmina followed on Tuesday who managed to move into a larger space without problems. This morning, the remaining three rhinos were released, ie. female Jasiri and Olmoti and male Mandela. “After the release, this trio stayed together and explored the new terrain together,” adds Jiří Hrubý.

Upon arrival, the rhinos were placed in bomas, i.e. wooden fence pens. The keepers brought them branches directly from the savannah, so that they could got used to plants they have access to after their release.  Now they immediately follow the bomas and their fencing is made up of stones and electric wires. The bomas remained open so the animals can return to them at will.

“The release of rhinos into larger enclosures, where they can still be observed and controlled, is a necessary phase of acclimatization. The animals will stay in larger enclosures for several weeks and depending on their habituation, we will assess their eventual release into a larger space, ”says Jan Stejskal, Director of In-situ Projects at Safari Park Dvur Kralove.

Five critically endangered black rhinos were transported from the Safari Park Dvur Kralove to the Akagera National Park in Rwanda on 23 and 24 June. This group is to support the recovery of the rhino population in the country. The rhinos have been prepared and transported to Rwanda by Safari Park Dvur Kralove in cooperation with the patroness of the transportation Veronika Varekova, the Rwandan government, the African Parks and the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA). Three rhinos from the Safari Park Dvur Kralove in the Czech Republic, one from Flamingo Land in England and one from Ree Park Safari in Denmark were selected for this project by Mark Pilgrim, EAZA Coordinator of European Black Rhinoceros breeding programme.

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