Due to their lack of opposable thumbs, this plucky sextet are being aided in their aerial journey by South African NGO African Parks, who have managed Chad’s Zakouma National Park – the rhinos’ destination – since 2010. The move was first agreed back in October 2017, between the governments of Chad and South Africa, but it was not until the 2nd of May 2018 when the animals finally took to the air. Each of the rhinos was sourced by South African Parks Network (SANParks), who transferred them earlier this year to a series of bomas, or holding pens, located in a secure holding facility in the Eastern Cape. By giving the soon-to-be migrants time to adjust to a new area before the long flight, SANParks staff were able to monitor the rhinos and assess whether they would be able to successfully adjust to life in a foreign environment upon arrival in Zakouma.
But with the implementation of increased security measures, specialist ranger training, satellite collaring of wildlife and community outreach events, Zakouma’s fortunes have taken a decided turn for the better. A crack team of rapid-response rangers known as the Mambas patrol the park either on horseback or motorbikes – ideal for the rugged terrain. New bases and an airstrip have been built, a second aircraft purchased, and a central radio control room is now manned 24/7 to facilitate communication between park staff and local communities. Poaching has been ‘practically eliminated’ since African Parks took over Zakouma, and over 500 elephants now live within the park’s borders – thought to be the largest herd in all of Africa - while the numbers of buffalo, giraffe, roan antelope and Lelwel’s hartebeest are also on the rise.
With the security of Zakouma’s wildlife firmly established, there has never been a better time for rhinos to be reintroduced to Chad. A number of rhino-specific measures have also been put into place ready for the animals’ arrival, including a dedicated ranger unit and improved aerial surveillance capabilities. African Parks also have past experience in reintroducing black rhino, having done so in Malawi’s Majete Wildlife Reserve in 2003 and Rwanda’s Akagera National Park in 2017.
Reintroducing the black rhino to Chad has far-reaching benefits, and not just for travellers wishing to see this magnificent species in the wild. By expanding the rhino’s range – doing so, crucially, with six individuals who are fertile and genetically compatible – will go a long way towards ensuring the survival of the species. At up to $60,000 per kilogram, rhino horn is the most expensive product on the planet – in demand for everything from traditional Asian medicine to ceremonial daggers – making rhinos one of the most threatened species on the planet. In March 2018, the last male northern white rhino died in captivity, leaving behind just two known female individuals and making the subspecies functionally extinct. A number of black rhino subspecies have gone the same way, ultimately falling victim to habitat destruction and the poacher’s rifle, including the southern black rhino and the western black rhino.
We run set departures to Zakouma National Park, where you can stay in a mobile tented camp, engage with the African Parks Conservation Network and witness the spectacle of Zakouma’s black rhinos and other wildlife with your very own eyes. Conducted alongside expert guides, this trip has limited space for just 8 guests. Daily activities will be decided by your guide based on weather conditions and wildlife activity.
For more of an insight into this safari, read NWS MD Will Bolsover's Chad safari blog!
|2019 Travel Dates||Prices|
|Feb 10 - 18||From £10,970|
Contact one of our Destination Specialists to start planning your journey.