The Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park, the oldest proclaimed nature reserve in Africa, became the only sanctuary for white rhinos in Southern Africa and rescued them from the brink of extinction through the influential project Operation Rhino. More than 50 years after its initiation, the positive results of Operation Rhino are still influencing the rhino populations of KwaZulu Natal and Africa as a whole. Read on to find out more of about what this incredibly important initiative was about.
In the 1940’s poaching had reached alarming heights in South Africa and the white rhino populations were dwindling, with less than 100 white rhinos left in South Africa. Recognising that something had to be done, Dr Ian Player initiated a project in the 1960’s called ‘Operation Rhino’. This project relocated a number of the remaining rhino and established safe breeding groups that allowed the population to grow while being carefully monitored. Operation Rhino grew from strength to strength, attracting local and international acclaim.
By 2010, South Africa was home to over 90% of all rhinos in Africa, with the number having grown to more than 17 000 white rhinos in South Africa thanks to Operation Rhino. This special initiative relocated over 4500 white rhino across Southern Africa and the ripple effect of its efforts continue to be seen in rhino conservation today.
While efforts are still being made to keep these prehistoric animals safe, things have certainly made a significant turnaround in the 50 years since their near-extinction.
Thanks to Operation Rhino, the rhino’s in the Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park make up the 6th global key population as ranked by IUCN African Rhino Specialist group – making it a sought-after destination for wildlife enthusiasts. A gem along the KwaZulu Natal coast, the park is the perfect place to catch a glimpse of these elusive animals.
For a chance to see how the number of rhino has grown first-hand, book your stay at Nibela Lake Lodge. This charming lodge is a scenic 90 minute drive from the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi National Park – making it ideal for daytrips to this historic location. Contact the friendly reservation team today by visiting the Nibela website or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Feature Image – Clive Reid