30 Southern white rhinos have been successfully translocated from South Africa to Rwanda in the largest-ever single translocation effort

The Story

On 27th November 2021, 30 southern white rhinos were translocated to Akagera National Park in Rwanda from Phinda Game Reserve in South Africa in the largest single rhino translocation ever undertaken. This historic translocation was carried out through a collaboration between the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), African Parks and &Beyond, with funding provided by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.

The introduction of white rhinos to Akagera comes at a critical juncture, as the relentless demand for rhino horn continues to exert pressure on populations throughout Africa. Classified as near threatened, this initiative aims to extend white rhino range and create a secure new breeding stronghold in Rwanda, supporting population growth to ensure the long-term survival of the species.

Sourced from the Munyawana Conservancy in &Beyond Phinda Game Reserve in South Africa, the rhinos made a 3,400 km journey which saw them flown to Rwanda on a Boeing 747 and then driven to Akagera National Park by truck. Over the next few weeks the rhinos will be monitored daily by a dedicated team and a specialist veterinarian who are overseeing their acclimation to the park.

Akagera National Park has been managed by the RDB in partnership with African Parks since 2010. Together, we have transformed the park into one of the most coveted wildlife destinations and a sustainable revenue source for the region’s communities. The introduction of white rhinos follows the reintroduction of 18 eastern black rhinos to Akagera in 2017 which was funded by the Howard G. Buffet Foundation and saw the return of the species to Rwanda after a 10-year absence. 2019 saw a further five eastern black rhinos introduced from European zoos. Today, Akagera serves as a globally important sanctuary for black and now white rhinos, securing a future for these vulnerable species.

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© Howard Cleland

The Journey

The white rhinos’ journey covered a total distance of over 3,400 km (2,113 miles) and saw them trucked from Phinda Game Reserve to Durban International Airport in South Africa, flown by Boeing 747 to Kigali International Airport in Rwanda and then trucked to Akagera National Park. This move marks the largest single rhino translocation ever undertaken.

Why is it Important?

White rhinos are classified as near threatened with numbers declining across existing strongholds, largely due to poaching driven by demand for their horns. The purpose of this translocation is to promote the long-term conservation of white rhinos in Africa by extending their range and creating a secure new breeding stronghold for the species in a safe and secure landscape.

Additionally, the translocation of white rhinos to Akagera National Park will help boost its contribution to Rwanda’s tourism economy, further enhancing the nation’s efforts to embed sustainability within its national development programme and to ensure that biodiversity conservation benefits both people and wildlife.

© &Beyond

Watch Now

In May 2017, African Parks successfully translocated 18 Eastern black rhinos from South Africa to Akagera National Park in collaboration with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. The translocation, which entailed a 2,485-mile (4,000 km) journey, reintroduced the species to the country following a ten-year absence. This was a testament not only to the potential of the park to sustain a rhino population, but also to the extremely high levels of security and effective park management provided by African Parks and the Rwandan Government.