A conservation collaboration for the rhinos of Southern Africa
2014 – 2019
Faced with a devastating exponential rise in illegal rhino poaching in South Africa in 2014, Rhinos Without Borders (RWB), a joint venture between two leading conservation and tourism companies, c and Great Plains Conservation, was formed in order to move these endangered animals away from poaching hotspots to create an additional source population.
Where appropriate, the rhinos were transported by air as opposed to road, in order to shorten the journey and lessen the amount of stress placed on the animals. The budget to translocate just one rhino was USD 50,000, with 25% of this amount exclusively set aside for the security and monitoring of the rhino in their new home for a period of three years.
Botswana was carefully selected as the recipient country due to its ecological suitability and the government’s commitment to the long-term success of this newly established rhino population. The initial aim of the project was to create new viable breeding populations to broaden the Botswana rhino gene pool, while also populating an ideal habitat for rhino and increasing the range, and in this way spreading the risk.
Between 2015 and 2018 a total of 87 rhino were translocated into sites determined by Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP).
2019 – 2021
In 2019, the steering committee of RWB assessed that the project, in partnership with the Botswana Government, had achieved our initial aim to establish a substantial new wild population of rhinos. The success of this project was evident not only in the translocation of 87 animals without a single fatality during the process of moving them, but also in that every sexually mature female that we translocated, had calved, numbering over 62 births. They therefore made the decision to migrate the project’s focus away from translocations to the active monitoring of these rhino populations.
Rhinos Without Borders’ experienced monitoring teams on the ground and in the air, worked daily with the Botswana Government, the Department of Wildlife & National Parks (DWNP), the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), and other rhino conservation stakeholders, to monitor the translocated rhino.