“Back from the Brink”
by Veronika Perkova
Reasons to Be Cheerful, January 24, 2022
I’d love to pitch you a story I believe is relevant to Reasons to be Cheerful’s audience.
What North Luangwa can teach other African parks about rhino reintroduction
Unlike most reintroductions, which occur in small fenced areas with fewer animals, the 2003-2010 reintroduction of rhinos in the North Luangwa National Park, Zambia, was the largest ever taken at the time, in one of the last open and intact ecosystems in Africa. How is the rhino population of Luangwa Valley doing 10 years later?
Not only does it show one of the fastest growth rates on the continent – from 25 rhinos up to 100 – the rhinos are breeding so successfully that there are plans to create a new rhino population in Nsumbu National Park. Despite the epidemic of rhino poaching sweeping much of Southern Africa, North Luangwa has been spared thanks to a mix of law enforcement interventions and community initiatives implemented with relentless funding over the past 30 years.
The reintroduction taught us lessons that other parks in Africa can use to reintroduce rhinos and other species; for example, bringing different cohorts of rhinos at the same time to shorten adaptation time and improve breeding rate instead of introducing them at different times, which caused social disruption.
In this article, I’d like to examine the factors that contributed to North Luangwa’s success in reducing illegal poaching as well as the challenges they’ve had and are still overcoming. I’d like to pay special attention to lessons learned during the reintroduction of black rhinos, the current challenges of a growing population, and plans to create a new rhino population in Nsumbu NP.
I estimate 1,500 words and a 4-week turnaround.