By Amelia Meyer
Rhinoceroses are, sadly, critically endangered in South Africa, even in the game parks in which there is a measure of protection from poachers. It is difficult to protect all of them, though, due to a distinct lack of funds and qualified staff, combined with an overabundance of poachers waiting for a vulnerable moment to attack.
The Black and White rhinos both occupy South Africa. They are contained within wildlife reserves and national parks like the Kruger National Park and Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve. Here, they live on the grassy plains and savannahs of the local bushveld. The White Rhinoceros has recovered from near extinction in South Africa to now being the most prolific rhino species in existence, anywhere in the world.
South Africa is the custodian of more than 80% of the entire world’s population of rhinos.
Therefore, these animals and their protection are of paramount importance in South Africa. Anti-poaching campaigns are conducted regularly to try to raise awareness and minimise the threat to the local rhinos. Sadly, during 2011, one rhino was killed almost every day for a long period by illegal poachers.
Of the four subspecies of Black Rhino, two are commonly found in South Africa. These are the South-central (Diceros bicornis minor) and the South-western (Diceros bicornis bicornis).
The Kruger National Park (Limpopo, South Africa)
This park is one of South Africa’s chief tourism attractions for its abundance of wildlife, covering almost 20 000 square kilometres. Black and White rhinos are both found in the park, but in far smaller numbers than in decades past. The Kruger National Park has implemented strict anti-poaching measures, but still falls prey to vicious poachers, who often sneak across the Mozambique border, which is particularly difficult to monitor. Tourism is of utmost importance to this park and its many lodges, and is an integral part of educating the world about the plight of the rhinos in South Africa.
The Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve (KwaZulu Natal, South Africa)
This game park is the oldest in the country, having been established in 1895. It is home to larger numbers of rhinos than Kruger, and its many lodges offer tourists the opportunity to view such animals in close proximity. Breeding projects were initiated in this park, and have been conducted here for decades. They have proven largely successful in increasing the numbers of precious rhinos that live within its borders. During the 1950’s and 1960’s, this reserve was acclaimed for its rhino breeding initiatives, particularly in terms of the White Rhino. Today, Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve continues to breed rhino and send them all over the world in attempts to rehabilitate their population numbers.
Other parks and reserves in which Black Rhino and White Rhino can be found in South Africa include the Augrabies Falls National Park (Northern Cape), the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve (Gauteng), the Addo Elephant Park (Eastern Cape), Kragga Kamma Game Reserve (Eastern Cape), the Pretorius Game Reserve (Free State) and the Pilanesberg National Park (North West Province).
The Big 5, of which the Black Rhino is a member, is an important part of South Africa’s tourist attractions and wildlife resources. It is imperative that these animals are protected and that no expense is spared in ensuring that the plains of South Africa continue to be traversed by such magnificent wildlife.