A special arrival at Yorkshire Wildlife Park could be a huge breakthrough in the battle to save critically endangered black rhinos.
Two-year-old Najuma will play a pivotal role in an international breeding programme to help the species recover from the brink of extinction.
The female black rhino, who was transferred from a German zoo, arrived yesterday, December 4, at the park after a 600 mile-long journey by road and ferry.
When she is old enough Najuma will be paired with three-year-old Makibo at the Into Africa reserve in the hope she can give birth to calves that will eventually be reintroduced into the wild.
The European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA) is co-ordinating a breeding programme that will generate the largest ever move of rhinos from Europe to Rwanda and will be accompanied by a comprehensive education, research and protection campaign.
Simon Marsh, Animal Collections Manager of the park at Branton, near Doncaster said:
It was amazing to welcome Najuma and start settling her into the house. Hopefully in the future she will breed with Makibo, their offspring could be crucial to the future of the black rhino.”
Black rhino numbers have been devastated by poaching and habitat loss and plunged to 2,300 before recent efforts helped the total to recover slightly to 5,000.
The first captive-born black rhinos will be re-introduced into the Akagera National Park, a 1,222 square kilometre haven for wildlife near the borders with Tanzania, during 2019.
YWP welcomed black rhinos Jasper and Makibo in March 2018 when the park’s previous black rhino Hodari and Dayo moved to the Netherlands as part of the programme.
The Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation funds anti-poaching patrols to protect rhinos in the wild and also supports facilities which care for orphaned rhino calves after their mothers have been tragically killed by poachers for their horn.