Two of six black rhinoceroses flown to Chad’s Zakouma National Park from South Africa earlier this year have died, according to the organisation behind the animals’ relocation.
African Parks, which runs parks and protected areas in nine African countries, said in a recent statement that the two rhino carcasses were discovered in separate locations earlier this month and that the deaths were not related to poaching.
“A specialist veterinarian was dispatched and is now on site in Zakouma National Park in order to conduct a post mortem that will provide more information on the cause of death and assess the situation to advise on further actions. Details of this will be made available once the cause has been confirmed,” the statement reads.
Six black rhinos were moved to Zakouma National Park from South Arica’s Addo Elephant National Park in May this year. The relocation marked the first time in 50 years that rhinos have lived in Chad.
Although rhinos were once widespread throughout Africa, only about 5,000 black rhinos remain. Chad was once home to both the western black rhino (Diceros bicornis longipes), declared extinct in 2011, and the northern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum cottoni), a subspecies of the white rhino that is functionally extinct, with only two females left.
The rhino deaths in Chad are the second such incident this year associated with the translocation of rhinos. In a botched translocation in July this year, all 11 black rhinos that were moved from parks near Nairobi, Kenya, to Tsavo East National Park died, reportedly from salt poisoning and dehydration.
“The deaths in Chad and Kenya are nothing short of a tragedy,” said David Barritt, spokesman for the Animal Survival International (formerly Political Animal Lobby). “As a result of decades of poaching for rhino horn, numbers of rhinos have plummeted across Africa. The world must intensify its efforts to protect the rhinos that remain.”