Image via: Google Earth Community
Even the organizing agency, Fauna & Flora International, admits is a "last-ditch effort" to save the northern White Rhino - the project itself has been oddly enough titled the "Last Chance to Survive" Project. Yet, four of the last remaining eight northern White Rhinos on the planet are being flown from the Czech Republic to Kenya to live out their last years and (hopefully) make a little love in the process.The price: Half a million dollars.
The trip: Fly from Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic to the Ol Pejecta Conservancy in Kaikipia, Kenya. It even includes a "rhino whisperer" Berry White to help ease the process. (Are they sure that's not Barry White, maybe to help set the mood?)
The goal: It is hoped that once the rhinos are in their natural habitat, they will be more comfortable and feel like making themselves at home, including making new baby rhinos in the process.
What Do We Know About the White Rhino?
The northern white rhinos are thought to be extinct in the wild and are the rarest of all the large mammals (and the third largest of all African animals weighing in at up to 2,400 lbs). The last white rhino to be bred in captivity occurred in 2000, and is a very rare event. This project will hopefully establish a breeding pair of rhinos, but many involved think this reintroduction project may take as long as 20 years. In the last 50 years, only five white rhinos have been born in captivity.
The white rhino is technically not white, it's grey. The other 4 remaining white rhinos not going to Kenya are currently living at the San Diego Zoo. Of the 8 on the planet, 3 are male and 5 are female, but only four of these can reproduce. The last wild white rhinos were seen in 2007 but there have been no sightings or reports of them since then. No surprise, poaching is still the main threat to the rhino's life as their horns are sold on the black market for thousands of dollars.
How Will These Rhinos Be Kept Safe?
They will be implanted with monitoring and tracking devices in their horns. Next, the Conservancy has a custom-built area for the rhinos that includes 400 hectars, an electrified fence and 24 hour monitoring. Several different monitoring security teams will all be responsible for keeping track of the rhinos. There is an entire team of scientists, rhino experts, medical staff and even a rhino whisperer who will all be present during the translocation to ensure that the rhinos successfully make it to Kenya.
While there is concern about inbreeding, a similar program was set up to help the southern white rhino breed and they went from a population of 50 to the 18,000 that are around today. It is hoped that the northern white rhino will have similar success.
The rhinos will make the trip in just a few days (December 20) and you can check back on Fauna & Flora International's website for video footage and continued coverage of the trip.
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