The first healthy baby female white rhino was born in Zinave National Park in Mozambique a few weeks ago, the product of a multi-year targeted relocation to protect the threatened species.
The Peace Parks Foundation began this initiative more than six years ago, and last month successfully relocated 19 white rhinos from South Africa to adjoining Mozambique, in collaboration with both governments.
The population of wild rhinos has dropped more than 60 percent since 1970, due to factors such as poaching and habitat loss. The South African government reported that more than 400 rhinos were poached in 2021 across the country, both on government reservations and private property.
Rhinos are killed for their horns, and are constantly threatened by poachers.
“We've got an armed convoy that travels with us to make sure that we get safely to the border post,” Marius Fuls, the project manager for the rhino translocation program, told "ABC News Prime." “And then in Mozambique side, they've got another armed convoy taking over from us.’’
Of the two species of rhino that live in Africa, white rhinos have a conservation status of “near threatened” while black rhinos are “critically endangered," according to World Wildlife Fund.
Black rhinos, which the Peace Parks Foundation hope to eventually relocate to Zinave, have seen their population drop more than 97% since 1960, according to the African Wildlife Foundation.
This project, which was started by the Peace Parks Foundation more than six years ago, aims to create a sanctuary in the Zinave National Park of Mozambique, which experienced a drop in wildlife in part due to the 1977 civil war which lasted 15 years.
In a press release, the Peace Parks Foundation said that they have introduced “2,400 game animals representing 14 different species” to the park.
With the arrival of rhinos, the project has created the first “big five” national park in Mozambique, meaning that the park has lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and buffalos, the press release states.
Lions were spotted in the Zinave National Park for the first time in 40 years last September, the Peace Parks Foundation reported.
Rhinos have also been extinct from Mozambique for 40 years.
In order to be transported, the rhinos are shot with tranquilizer and transported in armed convoys for safety. Once in the park, the rhinos are guarded by 72 rangers, and 20 patrol guards.
Over the next few years project managers say they hope to bring an additional 40 rhinos to the sanctuary.
“We need to get more populations breeding in safe areas all over Africa,” said Fuls. “That's what we're trying to achieve with this project.”