Flamingo Land to release endangered black rhino into the wild

Olmoti ready to start his journey
Olmoti ready to start his journey

Flamingo Land is taking part in a ‘once in a lifetime’ conservation project to release a critically endangered black rhino into the wild.

On November 14, 2018, one of the park’s Eastern black rhinos, Olmoti, will start a journey which will culminate in her being released into the Akagera National Park in Rwanda, Africa.

During the first stage of the journey, three-year-old Olmoti will be moved by lorry to Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic, where she will meet four other rhino who will be travelling with her to Rwanda.

These rhino, who were all born in Europe, have been carefully chosen to inject some much-needed genetic diversity into the rhino population in the African park, which covers 112 hectares and is home to giraffe, lion, zebra and elephants.

Once they become socialised with each other, the group will be flown to Rwanda in one of the largest scale animal transportations of its type to ever take place.

The whole process, including a staged release in Rwanda, is expected to take up to a year.

Ross Snipp, Flamingo Land’s zoo manager, said: “Olmoti doesn’t know it yet, but she is about to become one of the most important black rhino in Africa.

“This is a once in a lifetime event. Here at Flamingo Land we are incredibly proud to be a part of this project, which is aimed at securing the long-term future of the Eastern black rhino population, which is under serious threat.”

Gordon Gibb, Flamingo Land’s owner, said: “The release of Olmoti, our beloved rhino, into the wilds of Rwanda is the culmination of my life’s work and that of our animal collection at Flamingo Land.

“Using our facility as a safe sanctuary to breed critically endangered animals is something we have been doing for decades.

“Our inspiration has always been to return offspring back to the wild and to replenish dwindling world populations. This is the only way of preventing the extinction of this majestic species.

“Olmoti’s story is of huge significance and we will be watching her journey with great interest and pride.

“In addition to the security teams which will be quietly protecting Olmoti from poachers, she has two very impressive individuals monitoring her progress.

“Prince Harry, who is President of African Parks, and Prince William, a tireless supporter of rhino conservation, have asked to be kept informed of Olmoti’s progress, which, of course, we will do.

“With all the love, hard work, dedication and now a Royal interest, she has been given every chance to flourish with her new family in Rwanda.”

The Eastern black rhino can only be found in a handful of protected locations across Africa.

The main threats are poaching and habitat loss, but thankfully, at Akagera National Park, poaching has decreased by 97% in three years.

This is due to the park investing in a large team of rangers and sophisticated security and communication measures.

Olmoti’s mum, Samira, age 17, will remain at Flamingo Land, along with Chanua, six, who arrived in 2016, a year after Olmoti and her mum.

The project has been made possible due to collaborative working between representatives from Flamingo Land, the Czech Republic, Rwanda, the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) and the European stud book (EEP).