The critically endangered black rhino has returned to the wilds of Rwanda with the help of Etihad Cargo and animal transport specialist Intradco Global.
behalf of African Parks, a conservation non-profit organisation that manages
national parks and protected areas on behalf of governments across the
continent, Intradco chartered two Etihad Boeing 777 freighters to transport the
19 black rhinos from Johannesburg to the Rwandan capital, Kigali. Upon touching
down at Kigali International Airport (KGL), the rhinos were carefully
transferred to trucks to continue the final leg of their journey by road, under
Ten rhinos travelled on the first
flight, and nine on the second, along with the three vets and two attendants
who accompanied them for the duration of their entire journey from Johannesburg
to Akagera National Park.
The rhinos, which can weigh up to
2,500 kg each, were transported in special pallets which also contained their
feed for the journey. The
temperature on the aircraft is specified by the vet to ensure the animals do
not overheat or become stressed.
project to return the rhinos took place over the first two weeks of May, and
represents a historical moment for the country after the species disappeared in
2007 following decades of widespread poaching.
complex logistics involved in this remarkable homecoming required the expertise
of Intradco’s specialists who spent more than a year planning the journey with
Etihad Cargo, who operated the flights.
Intradco worked closely with
African Parks and the Akegara team to ensure all permits and clearances were in
place including valid CITES documentation (the Convention on International
Trade in Endangered Species) – a requirement when transporting listed species
such as black rhino.
Tom Lamb, Intradco project manager,
accompanied the animals on both flights and travelled with the team for the
five-hour drive to Akegara National Park where they were successfully released.
Commenting on the project, Mr
Lamb said: “It is a brilliant achievement to return the extremely rare eastern
black rhino to Rwanda after a 10-year absence. There are only 1,000 left
globally so moving two per cent of the world's population was a big
responsibility and challenge, and an incredible project to be a part of.
was a privilege to be able to accompany the rhinos on their homecoming and
witness their release back into the wild. We would also like to thank Etihad
Cargo for their role in operating the two flights and for their meticulous care
Kerr, Senior Vice President Etihad Cargo, said: “We are proud to play this
integral role in returning an endangered species to its home. Last year Etihad
Airways became one of the first airlines to sign the Declaration
of the United for Wildlife International Taskforce on the Transportation of
Illegal Wildlife Products, known as the Buckingham
Palace Declaration, as a demonstration of our support for preventing illegal
wildlife trade – estimated to be worth up to US $20 billion today. As a key
mode of transport for carrying this caught wildlife across borders, it is the
responsibility of the aviation industry to take action to prevent this.”
Jes Gruner, Akagera Park
Manager, said: “Together with the Rwanda Development Board and the Howard G.
Buffett Foundation, we have spent the last three years preparing for this
historic event, ensuring that the park is safe for the arrival of the rhinos
and for their long-term future so they can breed and thrive.
has transformed since African Parks assumed management in partnership with the
Rwanda Development Board in 2010, overhauling law enforcement and reducing
poaching to an all-time low in just six years, thus making it safe to bring
these eastern black rhinos back home.”