A Texas-based conservation organisation is proposing a radical rescue effort that could see 1,000 orphaned white rhinos transported over 9,000 miles from South Africa to South Texas.
The Exotic Wildlife Association (EWA) and Groupelephant.com are currently negotiating the plans with RSA officials, as they look to ease the threat of extinction currently being caused by the killings of three to five rhinos per week in South Africa.
Rhinos are highly sought after for their horns, which can fetch up to $90,000 on the black market. My San Antonio report that EWA executive director Charly Seale thinks that in as little as five years poachers will wipe out the white rhino from South Africa.
Explaining the EWA’s rationale for the radical transportation plan, Seale said: “If you cannot remove the danger from the animal, then you remove the animal from the danger.”
South Texas has a similar climate and terrain to that of South Africa. Seale claims that the EWA’s proposal is needed to ensure the continued conservation and propagation of the endangered species.
“These animals will never be in commerce, they will not be sold, they will not be hunted,” he said, adding that the rhinos will not be free to “roam around the countryside.”
If the EWA receive approval from the US Department of Interior and the RSA government, the rhinos will be transported by plane to Texas.
“They would still need a lot of care, some of them will be in the weaning ages,” Seale said. “It’s a costly venture, so it’s not for the faint of heart.”
The EWA hope to set up a repatriation programme that will see the rhinos returned to Africa once the population has stabilised, although they admit that because of the scale of the issue any homecoming is likely to be a long way off.
Image via shankar s. / cc