Science

Kruger National Park: First Dedicated Black Rhino Count Finds 55 Animals

The endangered black rhino is in the spotlight again. This time it's to find out how many of these elusive and secretive creatures there are in the Kruger National Park. Black rhinos are seldom seen as they prefer to keep to themselves in thickets and bushy areas where they can browse in peace. A founder population of 90 animals was introduced in the park between the 1970s and 1990 as part of a donation from the then Natal Parks Board.

The focus areas for these introductions were around Skukuza and Tshokwane. Since then the black rhinos have only been counted as part of other census operations, such as the annual elephant census, but no detailed census of black rhino has been done before.In a project funded by the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) and the International Rhino Foundation, a specialised team has been flying in the southern section of the park to see how many rhino they could spot. Rhino specialists Raoul du Toit and Charles Mackey brought their Piper Super Cub and Christen Husky light aircraft from Zimbabwe and worked together with Tshokwane section ranger Steven Whitfield in the Sanparks Bantam ultralight aircraft. 

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