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New landmark for black rhino project

WWF’s Black Rhino Range Expansion Project (BRREP) has just successfully moved its 11th population of this critically endangered species.

Cape Town, South Africa (20 October 2017). WWF’s Black Rhino Range Expansion Project (BRREP) has successfully moved its 11th population of this critically endangered species to a new location where it is hoped the animals will breed quickly and bolster their numbers.

In this most recent move, 14 rhinos captured in parks in KwaZulu-Natal were released onto a new reserve at an undisclosed location in the north of the country. And, in what is a mark of the project’s success over the years, some of the rhinos involved in this move are from early project sites

BRREP has been working since 2003 to increase black rhino numbers by increasing the land available on which they can breed. This is done by moving founder populations of rhino to new areas. The first group of rhinos was moved in 2004.

BRREP Project Leader Dr Jacques Flamand commented: “Some of our early populations have grown enough that some rhino can be moved from those sites. This is good news because it shows that the plan to increase black rhino numbers through the project is working.”

There are now about 200 black rhino on BRREP sites across South Africa. This represents roughly 10% of the country’s black rhino population.
“Black rhino, and rhino generally, are under huge pressure. We really have to fight for them. If they don’t have champions, they are doomed to disappear,” said Dr Flamand.
WWF-SA Wildlife Programme Senior Manager Dr Jo Shaw added: “We know it is as important to grow rhino births as it is to address losses due to poaching which is where BRREP comes into the equation. It’s a great example of what can be achieved when we all work together.”
Dr Morné du Plessis, CEO of WWF-SA, commented: “Projects like BRREP bring hope as they contribute towards rhino recovery and show what is possible. We are delighted that we have been able to see this 11th move through to its conclusion – and hope to establish many more breeding populations to safeguard the future of this iconic species.”

BRREP is a partnership between WWF, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency with additional support from the Ford Wildlife Foundation.


As part of its contribution to rhino conservation, WWF South Africa oversees several other projects to secure rhino populations, among them:
  • The Black Rhino Guardian Project in the Kruger National Park which is providing scientific support for research into black rhino with the view to better biological monitoring and security;
  • A Canine Training Centre at the Southern African Wildlife College which trains field rangers as dog handlers and develops free tracking and incursion dogs for anti-poaching activities;
  • Providing equipment for a range of rhino reserves across the threatened KZN province and helping to upgrade a helipad to enable night flight capabilities;
  • The Rural Initiative for a Sustainable Environment (RISE) at the Southern African Wildlife College which assists local communities living in proximity with wildlife
  • Working with the Mangalane community and the Sabie Game Park on the eastern border of the Kruger National Park in Mozambique to bring benefits from wildlife back to the villages
  • Developing training materials for enforcement officials from a range of agencies in addressing wildlife trafficking, in partnership with the Department of Environmental Affairs, thanks to support from the US State Department, INL.
  • Supporting WWF Mozambique by providing training and exchange opportunities for those involved in prosecuting wildlife offences under the new Conservation Areas law.
BRREP's 11th release of a new population of black rhino was successfully completed in October 2017.
Black Rhino Range Expansion Project coordinator Ursina Rusch administers an antidote to wake up a sleeping rhino during the 11th black rhino release.

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