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TANZANIA RECEIVE THREE BLACK RHINOS FROM UK

Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Ambassador Khamis Kagasheki (fourth left front row) shake hands with UK's High Commissioner Dianne Corner soon after the later handed over three rhinos from UK to Mkomazi National Park

Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Ambassador Khamis Kagasheki (fourth left front row) shake hands with UK's High Commissioner Dianne Corner soon after the later handed over three rhinos from UK to Mkomazi National Park (Picture by Pascal Shelutete)

Waziri wa Malisili na Utalii Balozi Khamis Kagasheki akipeana mkono na Balozi wa Uingereza nchini. Bi. Dianne Corner mara baada ya balozi kukabidhi faru watatu walioletwa nchini kutoka Uingereza kwa ajili ya Hifadhi ya Taifa ya Mkomazi. (Picha na Pascal Shelutete)

Tanzania National Parks has received three black rhinos from Britain. The rhino were handed over to the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Honorable Ambassador Khamis Kagasheki by the UK’s Hugh Commissioner Ms. Diane Corner at Mkomazi National Park over the weekend.

During the handing over ceremony, Ms. Diane Corner said that her country and Tanzania share very common aims in protecting the remaining rhinoceros population.

The rhinos were translocated from the United Kingdom by the donors – Damian Aspinall and Amos George of the Aspinall Foundation and Port Lympne Wild Animal Park and ferried to Tanzania aboard a huge DHL 757 aircraft last Saturday and touched down at Kilimanjaro Airport at around 7:20 am last Sunday.

The rhino’s motorcade, which was under tight security, arrived at Mkomazi National Park at 2:30 pm where Ms. Corner handed over the wild animals to Ambassador Kagasheki before they were taken to their cage at Mkomazi Rhino Sanctuary.

In her handing-over remarks, Ambassador Corner lauded Mr. Tony Fitzjohn of the George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust as well as his talented and dedicated Tanzanian team for building, stocking and managing the Mkomazi Rhino Sanctuary to a highly professional level where they were able to accept the donation of the rhinos, protect them, breed them up and perpetuate the very precious species.

Ambassador Kagasheki told the envoy that the history of black rhino population in Tanzania and Africa in general has been one of a disappointment, saying during the 1960’s, it was estimated that there were about 70,000 black rhinos in Africa, of which 10,000 were in Tanzania, the largest concentrations of black rhino in Africa.

However, the Minister said by 1984, it was estimated that Tanzania’s rhino population had been reduced by 70% from 10,000 in 1960 to around 3,000. Worse still, said Ambassador Kagasheki, by 1990 black rhino numbers in Tanznaia had been reduced by over 97% to less than 100 animals, a tragic story indeed, he pointed out.

“The severe decline in rhino numbers and the extent of poaching throughout the country has continued to pose a serious challenge in our anti-poaching operations,”he said. Ambassador Kagasheki has asked communities living around all national parks countrywide to offer maximum support to wildlife conservation organs in the country to ensure that black rhinos and other highly endangered wild animals do not disappear from earth as the future generation will come and ask on the integrity and worthiness of our existence at the time.

Earlier, the Director General of Tanzania National Parks, Mr. Allan Kijazi, told  the audience that black rhinos were classified as ‘Critically Endangered’ in the World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List in 1996 and is listed on Appendix 1 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora.

He said Mkomazi, whose status was upgraded to a National Park on March 14, 2008, used to have a large population of black rhinos until that population was wiped out in the 1980’s, adding that Mkomazi hosted between 150 to 250 eastern black rhinos back in 1968, estimated at nine black rhinos per square kilometer. By the 1980’s population of the animals had dropped to below twenty.