In an emergency intervention, the dehorning and translocation of six rhino – four female adults and two calves – from the uMkhuze section of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park to the Western Shores has been successfully completed.
The translocations followed on from a detailed in loco inspection of uMkhuze by senior iSimangaliso and Ezemvelo park managers, together with section rangers, as part of the ongoing drought monitoring across iSimangaliso. This was followed by an aerial survey to verify the condition of individual rhino in uMkhuze. Animals are rated on a scale of one to five where five is optimum, four is good, three is fair, two is poor and one is very poor. During the survey, around 15 adult rhino found to be in the lower end of class 3 and below and were identified for translocation.
“While the current white rhino population in the uMkhuze section of iSimangaliso is below its ecological carrying capacity,” explains Andrew Zaloumis, CEO of iSimangaliso Wetland Park, “and artificially supplied water points are flowing well, the severity of the current drought, coupled with extremely high ambient temperatures, has resulted in food shortages and severe nutritional stress for some of the animals. Consequently, it was determined that the rhino in poor condition should be relocated as an emergency measure. It was important to do this before their condition deteriorated to a point where they would have been too weak to be translocated.”
“It is imperative to step in to save this iconic species in light of the severity of this drought. uMkhuze is currently experiencing one of the most severe droughts in recorded history – almost as bad as the one experienced in the 1950s,” says Zaloumis.
Since the implementation of iSimangaliso’s recent strategy to dehorn all rhino on the Western Shores – where they were deemed to be more vulnerable to poaching – no further rhino have been lost in that section.
Source: The iSimangaliso Wetland Park