African Parks is a non-profit conservation organisation that assumes responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of a portfolio of 22 national parks across 12 African countries, spanning over 20 million hectares, in partnership with governments and local communities.
In addition to a set of monitoring and research programmes, their integrated conservation strategies combine habitat management with wildlife reintroductions and cross-border translocations.
Between 2015 and 2023, &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve has supported African Parks in three historic translocations. The first of these, from South Africa to Rwanda’s Akagera National Park, reversed a decades-long local extinction of lion; the second, also from South Africa to Akagera, established a new stronghold for white rhino. In 2023, a new founder population of 16 white rhinos was translocated from South Africa to Garamba National park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
&Beyond Phinda has a long history of successful lion conservation and is currently home to the South Africa’s second most genetically diverse lion population.
In a 2015 collaboration with African Parks and the Rwanda Development Board, they donated five lionesses, which together with two males from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, shaped the new founder population for Rwanda’s Akagera National Psrk.
Phinda’s first international translocation of lion…
In a further collaboration with African Parks and the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve had the privilege of supporting the largest single translocation of rhino to date when 30 rhino from the reserve were transported 3 400 km in a journey of 40 hours to their new stronghold in Rwanda’s Akagera National Park.
The forward planning of this unprecedented translocation was years in the making. Over and above the complexities of cross-border permits and documentation, there were vehicles, trucks, vets and a cargo plane to coordinate, not to mention the dedicated teams and collective expertise that shepherded the rhino from start to finish.
It is collaborations like these, which play to the strengths of like-minded organisations, that will compound positive change and shape the future of conservation.
Collaborations are shaping the future…
June 2023 saw the return of white rhino to Garamba National Park, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In this groundbreaking effort, a founder population of 16 southern white rhinos from &Beyond Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve were translocated in collaboration with African Parks, the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature(ICCN), and key sponsor, Barrick Gold Corporation.
Peter Fearnhead, African Parks CEO, explains that this reintroduction is the start of a process whereby southern white rhino, as the closest genetic alternative, can fulfil the role of the northern white rhino in the landscape; with only two non-breeding females remaining, the northern white rhino subspecies is considered functionally extinct.
New source population of white rhino…