RCB helps President Khama translocate white rhinos to new home

Four prime breeding white rhinos were translocated to Sowa Conservation Park to start a new breeding population. Photo courtesy of Kelly Landen

Four prime breeding white rhinos were translocated to Sowa Conservation Park to start a new breeding population. Photo courtesy of Kelly Landen

In June, Rhino Conservation Botswana (RCB) was proud to assist President Ian Khama and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) with a delicate operation – relocating four rhinos across Botswana.

The white rhinos – one male and three females – were moved from Khama Rhino Sanctuary near Serowe to Sowa Conservation Park in the Makgadikgadi Pans region. Here it’s hoped they will start a new breeding population. The animals were carefully selected, so we expect numbers will build quickly, boosting Botswana’s wild rhino population and attracting tourists to this spectacular area.

The rhinos are cajoled into the crates for their journey to Sowa Conservation Park. Photo courtesy of Kelly Landen

The rhinos are cajoled into the crates for their journey to Sowa Conservation Park. Photo courtesy of Kelly Landen

The darting was carried out by Dr. Mmadi Reuben, the DWNP’s head veterinarian and a great team leader. As a result, the operation was very smooth – the animals being efficiently tranquilized and then partially revived for the walk into their specially designed transport crates.

The rhinos were blindfolded to protect their eyes, keep them calm and prevent them from taking a swipe at anyone. Then they were gently guided into the crate thanks to a rope around their horn and some steering by the RCB and DWNP teams.

The crates were then loaded onto trucks and escorted to their new home by RCB and the DWNP’s anti-poaching unit.

Nearly there! Photo courtesy of Kelly Landen

Nearly there! Photo courtesy of Kelly Landen

The rhinos travel to their new home in special crates. They wear blindfolds and have mufflers put in their ears to keep them quiet and calm during the journey. Photo courtesy of Kelly Landen

The rhinos travel to their new home in special crates. They wear blindfolds and have mufflers put in their ears to keep them quiet and calm during the journey. Photo courtesy of Kelly Landen

Sua Pan is one of three vast salt pans left over from a massive ancient lake in the Makgadikgadi. Extremely arid for much of the year, during good rains the pans flood forming powder blue lakes and attracting wildlife from miles around.

Sowa Conservation Park is the ideal place to start a new breeding population of white rhinos, because it covers a huge area of excellent grazing and benefits from top security. A highly trained anti-poaching unit will watch over the rhinos in their new home.

After the rhinos were released, a herd of eland was also introduced to the site to bolster the region’s wildlife diversity. The conservation park works to educate the surrounding communities about animals, their habits and habitats. 

The sodium carbonate (soda ash) and salt mining company Botash is based at Sua, and hopes to link Sowa Conservation Park with the community-run Nata Bird Sanctuary to the north, bringing even more wildlife to the park in the future.

We will let you know how the four rhinos get on in their new home.

President Ian Khama and Minister of Environment Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Mr Tshekedi Khama (left), welcome the new rhinos to Sowa. Photo courtesy of Kelly Landen

President Ian Khama and Minister of Environment Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Mr Tshekedi Khama (left), welcome the new rhinos to Sowa. Photo courtesy of Kelly Landen

The rhinos calmly walk out of the crates and into their new home. Photo courtesy of Kelly Landen

The rhinos calmly walk out of the crates and into their new home. Photo courtesy of Kelly Landen

Many people came to watch the rhinos being released. Photo courtesy of Kelly Landen

Many people came to watch the rhinos being released. Photo courtesy of Kelly Landen

A herd of eland was also introduced to the park to bolster the region's wildlife populations. Photo courtesy of Kelly Landen

A herd of eland was also introduced to the park to bolster the region's wildlife populations. Photo courtesy of Kelly Landen

We can only continue to build Botswana’s wild rhino populations thanks to your support. An operation like this costs thousands of pounds, and then the hard work really begins – keeping the rhinos safe. Please help us to help them by donating today.