Rhino Conservation

To promote the survival of black and white rhinos in Zimbabwe


The African rhino species, Ceratotherium simum, Diceros bicornis, have suffered a severe decline in numbers in recent history as a result of poaching in sub Saharan range states. This poaching alimented an illegal international trade in rhino horn for dagger handles and for the purposes of traditional oriental medicine, which could not be contained for a long period of time in spite of both species having been affored international protection under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).


The continental population of the black rhino (Diceros bicornis) has declined by over 90% since the mid-20th century, reaching a low of 2,410 in 1995. Since then, overall numbers have been steadily increasing (average annual growth 5.2%), reaching almost 4,000 by 2005, but the species is still considered critically endangered. The southern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum simum) became almost extinct at the end of the 19th century when only one single population of probably some 20 animals survived in the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi area of Kwazulu-Natal. Thanks to good protection and effective management the population recovered steadily, animals were translocated within South Africa and sent to other countries, including Zimbabwe, for establishing new populations. As of today, total numbers are in the order of 13,000 animals, and the subspecies is now rated "near threatened" only by IUCN. On the other hand, the northern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum cottoni) is on the verge of extinction with only one minuscule population surviving at Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.


Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA) implemented a management plan to protect rhino populations in Zimbabwe and to enable the population to grow within Intensive Protection Zones (IPZs) on Parks Estates and on private Conservancies. Whilst there has been a steady rise in rhino numbers in Zimbabwe over the last 10 years, bringing the national total of blacks to some 500 animals and of whites to 250, poaching has again flared up along with habitat disturbance in Conservancies due to changes in land use and competition from elephant in certain IPZs.


Working closely with ZPWMA, partner NGOs and Dept of Veterinary Services Wildlife Veterinary Unit, Marwell Zimbabwe Trust contributes logistical and technical support for rhinoceros conservation and management in Zimbabwe. Initiatives include field research aimed at improving rhino management in the Parks & Wildlife Estate, population census and monitoring programmes, facilitating emergency veterinary work when required on an ad hoc basis and assisting with the translocation of animals between isolated sites for meta-population and other management requirements. Maintenance of rhino held in bomas during relocation exercises.

MZT also facilitates logistical support for a combination of international NGO's who provide funding for a course on rhino monitoring techniques for ZPWMA scouts. These courses are designed to teach scouts to accurately identify individual rhino and acquire data on the age, gender, breeding status and body condition of these animals, which is entered onto a database for their area. These databases then feed into the National and regional databases for rhino in Africa. Equipment such as binoculars have also been supplied by donors, through MZT, to assist the scouts in accomplishing their work in the field.

WAZA Conservation Project 05020 is implemented by Marwell Zimbabwe Trust (MZT) and supported by Marwell Zoological Park, International Rhino Foundation and Save Foundation Australia.


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