Uganda aviation firm flies rhinos to DR Congo

Sixteen southern white rhinos have arrived in the Democratic Republic of Congo after being flown from South Africa, park authorities said on Sunday, in a move aimed at promoting the long-term conservation of the animals’ population in Africa.

The white rhinos arrived at Garamba National Park in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Saturday from South Africa’s Phinda Private Game Reserve through a collaborative effort, according to a statement by African Parks, a conservation charity involved in the exercise.

The translocation forms part of a larger conservation initiative to replenish the species in the park after the last northern white rhino was poached in 2006.

The rhinos were airlifted in two moves from South Africa to Barrick Gold Corporation’s Kibali Mine airstrip in northeastern DR Congo and then trucked to the park.

Peter Fearnhead, African Parks’ chief executive officer, said the reintroduction is the start of a process whereby the southern white rhino as the closest genetic alternative can fulfill the role of the northern white rhino in the landscape.

But the white rhino population is now estimated at over 15,000 due to poaching.