years ago, Zambia's Black Rhino was extinct. However, a
group of conservationists are working to re-introduce the Black Rhino in Zambia's game reserves. Four groups are behind the move: the
Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA), the Wildlife
Conservation Society (WCS), Germany's Frankfurt Zoological Society and the
Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).
James Phiri is the country coordinator of the WWF in Zambia. He says his group
is saddened by the previous failure of conservationists to keep rhinos in the
parks. Poachers have killed almost 12,000 that were bought by the Zambia Wildlife Authority in 2003.
says the disappearance of Black Rhinos from Zambia's Game Management Areas has
resulted in the derailment of the country's eco-system and a drop in the number
of tourists in some parks, "As WWF we
are supporting the re-stocking and sustenance of the Black Rhino. We are
working through our Harare (Zimbabwean capital) office to make sure that the
population of the Black Rhino is raised."
Wildlife Conservation Society, based in New York City, is working to protect
the new rhino stocks. It's involved in a project designed to turn poachers into
can sell rhino horns for up to 24,000 dollars in the Far East, where they are
used in making traditional medicines such as fever reducing drugs and
ornamental handles for daggers.
Simwanza is a programs officer at the Zambia office of the Wildlife
Conservation Society. Simwanza has been coordinating a project that encourages
poachers to disarm and conserve wildlife. The poachers who agree to disarm are
offered basic training.
explains: "We initially worked with a
group of about 60 poachers. These poachers are required to voluntarily
surrender their guns and snares, which they once used for poaching. Once they
have done that they are recruited into a training program which will take about
six to seven weeks. During [this time], they are [introduced to] a number of
activities, including conservation farming, carpentry, tin smithing, vegetable
farming, bee keeping and fish farming."
Wildlife Conservation Society has also initiated another program, called
Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO). This initiative helps reformed
poachers and other rural people look after wildlife while making an income. Kalupya
Zimba is one of the people that have benefited from the program.
is working simply because it addresses rural poverty. What happens is that a
hungry person would rather kill (poach) an impala (similar to the gazelle) to
sell for food or money and they won't even care that I will go to prison when
they are caught. But COMACO has very aggressive marketing techniques which help
us to sell our [new skills, like carpentry]."
Black Rhinos to be re-introduced in Zambian wildlife estates will be imported
from Kenya and from neighboring countries which would likely have similar
rhino, like South Africa, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. The effort comes as a team of
American scientists say their research has found that different subspecies of
the Black Rhino are genetically similar and can be bred to produce strong and
Country Coordinator for Zambia James Phiri is urging Zambians to ensure they
safeguard the newly imported animals by teaching them, for example, the
importance of the rhino to tourism. Authorities will also be adding more
protection for the rhino, placing some in areas protected with barbed wire or
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
(CITES) has banned all international trade of rhino parts and products. It says
there are less than 4,000 Black Rhinos in the wild today.