Black Rhino Gives Birth at Akagera National Park

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By Dan Ngabonziza

September 22, will remain memorable to the family of 18 Eastern black rhinoceroses in Rwanda’s Akagera National Park.

As this day marks celebration of World Rhino Day, the Rhino family celebrates the birth of a healthy rhino calf – the first to be born in the country in over a decade.

“The first rhino calf to be born in over a decade is a profound moment for Rwanda and its people, a country that is leading in its commitment to the conservation of endangered species” said Jes Gruner, Akagera National Park Manager.

In May this year, African Parks – a conservation non-profit that manages national parks and protected areas on behalf of governments across the continent, in collaboration with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and with funding provided by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, started translocation of Rhinos to Akagera National Park from South Africa.

According to management of Akagera National Park, while this is the first photographic evidence of the calf, the park’s dedicated rhino monitoring team initially sighted the young calf in August and it has been sighted regularly since.

Based on this timing, says the team, its mother who has been named Ineza, would have been well in to her 15 to 16-month gestation period when she arrived safely in Akagera in May this year.

Ineza was brought over from South Africa with her older male calf, which now at two and a half years of age has left his mother and found his own territory and independence in Akagera.

“The collaboration with the RDB in the restoration of the park over the past six years has made bringing back the Eastern black rhino, one the rarest subspecies on the planet, possible in Rwanda.

Through our management and protection and collaboration with local communities, we’re working to safeguard the growth of an important population of rhinoceroses for the region,” the team said in a statement.

Tracked daily by dedicated monitoring teams, the translocated animals are prospering while this new calf brings their population total to 19.

In the 1970s the park was home to more than 50 black rhinos, but under the pressure of poaching their numbers were reduced until the last confirmed sighting of the species in 2007.

Since assuming management of Akagera National Park in partnership with RDB in 2010, African Parks has overhauled law enforcement, reducing poaching to an all-time low with not a single animal poached this year.

With the introduction of Rhinos into Akagera National Park, the country is home to the ‘Big Five’ destination.

Tourism revenue has increased by 550% since African Parks assumed management in 2010, and the park is now 70% self-financing due to tourism, which has seen a jump since security has been restored and since lions and rhinos were reintroduced.

In 2016, Rwanda earned $404 million from tourism – with the target to raise it up to $444 million this year.



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