By Lubna Hamdan
There are only 1,000 black rhinos left globally
Etihad Cargo and animal transport specialist Intradco Global have transported 19 endangered black rhinos from Johannesburg to the Rwandan capital Kigali.
After decades of widespread poaching that saw just 1,000 black rhinos left in the world, the transportation of the species back to the wilds of Rwanda was a historic moment for the country, after the species disappeared from the African nation in 2007.
The project took place over the first two weeks of May and was made on behalf of African Parks, a conservation non-profit organisation that manages national parks and protected areas on behalf of governments across the continent.
The rhinos, which can weigh up to 2,500kg each, were transported in special pallets on their journey to the protected Akagera National Park. They were accompanied by vets in flight and escorted by police upon arrival at Kigali International Airport (KGL).
Due to its complex logistics, the flight took over a year for Intradco and Etihad Cargo to plan.
Tom Lamb, Intradco project manager, accompanied the animals on both flights. Commenting on the project, he 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.”
David Kerr, Senior Vice President Etihad Cargo, said 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.
The decision was aimed at preventing illegal wildlife trade estimated to be worth up to $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,” Kerr said.