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Rhinos to have stopover in New Zealand on their way to Australia

 

The Australian Rhino Project, in conjunction with Zoos South Australia and Taronga Conservation Society, has today announced a new partnership with Orana Wildlife Park, Christchurch, to assist in the organisation’s vital mission to build an insurance population of rhinos outside of Africa.

With the poaching rate of rhinos for their horns now exceeding the birth rate, the tipping point for the African rhinoceros population has been reached. Experts predict rhinos will be extinct in the wild by 2024, if drastic measures are not taken. The Australian Rhino Project together with Zoos South Australia, Taronga Conservation Society and Orana Wildlife Park are committed to saving rhinos from extinction in an international conservation effort.

Chairman of the Australian Rhino Project, Allan Davies, says the project is delighted that Orana Wildlife Park has agreed to help make this project a reality. “Orana Wildlife Park is the only open range zoo in New Zealand and is well recognised for its breeding programmes for both endangered exotic and native species. Orana currently houses a breeding group of six rhinos and will work alongside our project partners to provide a safe haven for even more rhinos and strengthen the genetics of the species in the Australasian region. Orana will play a vital role as a quarantine facility for the rhinos destined for Australia, as well as housing a number of the rhinos in New Zealand long-term.”

Orana Wildlife Park’s Chief Executive, Lynn Anderson, says her team is very excited to be a partner in this ambitious programme: “We are extremely passionate about rhino conservation and are delighted to partner with TARP, Zoos South Australia and Taronga Conservation Society on this project. Orana has had the privilege to hold and breed rhino for over 30 years as part of the Australasian managed breeding programme. Four calves have been bred here, including the first rhino to be born in New Zealand. This partnership means Orana can further contribute to rhino conservation.”

The rhinoceros bound for Australia will need to be held for a period of time in New Zealand prior to their arrival due to biosecurity and quarantine requirements of the Australian Government.

One of the locations where the rhinos will be housed post quarantine will be in South Australia at one of the world’s largest open plain zoos, Monarto Zoo. Zoos South Australia Chief Executive Officer, Elaine Bensted, says her team is pleased with the progress of the project and the announcement of the support of Orana Wildlife Park. “The team at Monarto Zoo has been working for several years to establish an open plain area, known as ‘Wild Africa’, in preparation for the arrival of the rhinos. The 560-hectare property has been regenerated and planted with vegetation suitable for the rhino population and significant effort has been put into creating an environment that emulates the wild in Africa. The focus of construction has been on the 11.5 kilometres of external fencing and more recently the commencement of the construction of the Rhino Management Centre, where the rhinos will be housed immediately after their arrival for their mandatory quarantine period. “

 

Lynn Anderson, Chief Executive, Orana Wildlife Park (left) and Elaine Bensted, Chief Executive Officer, Zoos South Australia (right)

 

White Rhino at Monarto Zoo. Photographer: Adrian Mann

 

The Australian Rhino Project is a registered Australian charity and relies on fundraising and partner organisation support to achieve its objective of establishing a rhino population in Australia. The project undertook fundraising at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on the 27th January in conjunction with the Melbourne Stars, Optus and Kevin Pietersen. The event was successful in raising over $23,000 towards rhino conservation. Zoos South Australia will be hosting its annual Rhino Gala Dinner on the 9th February 2018 with all funds going to the funding of the construction of the Rhino Management Centre. Silent auction details are available at https://galabid.com/auction/rhinogala

 

 

Allan Davies

Chairman

on behalf of the board and operations team at the Australian Rhino Project

Sunrise at Monarto Zoo. Photographer: Geoff Brooks

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