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Our Projects: Saving South Africa's Black Rhino

Shibula and calf Translocation of Dundi
Location: South Africa
DSWF supported since: 1990
Project Summary: DSWF helped establish and continues to build up the vital black rhino-breeding programme, monitoring populations and introducing other endangered species into newly enlarged protected areas in South Africa. In 2011 a new anti-poaching element was introduced in direct response to the rise in rhino poaching to help protect these precious populations.
"Rhinos have lived on this planet for 30 million years - they deserve to survive. Having suffered a catastrophic 98% decline in the 1970s and '80s, this reintroduction programme is proving a vital part of black rhino conservation in South Africa."
David Shepherd, CBE

READ: The heart-breaking story of Geza - A Life Cut Short

In 1990, money raised from David's rhino painting enabled DSWF to rescue a black rhino, Shibula from her concrete prison in Lisbon Zoo and return her to the wild. In September 1994 Shibula made history when, having mated with a wild bull, she produced her first calf. This was the start of a conservation success story that continues today. Ten years later, the project to expand the Mountain Zebra National Park (MZNP) commenced, and later became inextricably linked to Shibula. The expansion, by over 200%, was made possible working with other partners and by two further paintings from David, which raised over £200,000, and with matching funds from South Africa National Parks, we were able to purchase adjoining farm land.

In 2000, again with support from DSWF, black rhino were reintroduced into the newly expanded park, including Shibula's first calf Dundi amongst others, and regular rhino monitoring of Shibula, who in 2008 gave birth to her 7th calf, and the newly formed breeding project at MZNP in the two respective national parks was started.

Increased tourism has provided welcome employment for the local community while the increased protected habitat has allowed not only the reintroduction of black rhino after an absence of over 150 years, but has ensured the safety of the critically endangered Cape mountain zebra, whose numbers are slowly increasing and are currently around 600. Gemsbok and disease free buffalo have also been successfully released and are breeding well. In 2008 cheetah were also reintroduced and are already breeding.

In 2011, in direct response to the huge increase in rhino poaching in South Africa, DSWF now funds a vital anti-poaching programme. The project now monitors and protects several critically important populations of black rhino.

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