In the largest single rhino translocation ever, conservationists flew 30 white rhinos from South Africa to Rwanda in a Boeing 747 last week, per NPR.

  • These animals, which can each weigh up to two tons, traveled 2,100 miles as a part of a program that aims to replenish the species’ population.
  • The rhinos traveled 40 hours to arrive at their new home in Akagera National Park in eastern Rwanda, per the report.
  • “We had to tranquilize them to reduce their stress, which is itself risky, and monitor them,” said Peter Fearnhead, African Parks’ CEO, a charity led by Prince Harry from the U.K., according to Aljazeera.
  • Per NPR, they were fitted with a tracking transmitter for contact monitoring, in the presence of a specialist veterinarian and other experts.

“This is an opportunity for Rwanda to substantially advance its contribution to rhino conservation, with Akagera poised to become a globally important sanctuary for black and now white rhinoceros,” said Ariella Kageruka, the Rwanda Development Board’s acting chief tourism officer in the report.

  • Per Aljazeera, poaching since the 1970s has decimated the rhino population.
  • White rhinos were often hunting prey for European settlers, and after that, a poaching epidemic wiped them out.
  • According to World Wild Life, the species was assumed to be extinct in the late ’90s but a small population of around 100 rhinos survived, classifying them as “near threatened.”

Per NPR, this rhino translocation was undertaken by the African Parks, the Rwanda Development Board and funded by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.