Zambezi, a male black rhino who was being relocated from a wildlife reserve in Kent, UK, to be released into the Serengeti in Tanzania, died unexpectedly on the flight there.
Black rhino are critically endangered in the wild and the 17-year-old male was being moved as part of an initiative to repopulate the African region.
According to a report from Metro.co.uk, Zambezi’s death is being investigated by animal conservation charity the Aspinall Foundation, which runs the Port Lympne Reserve in Kent where the rhino lived.
The Aspinall Foundation has already successfully translocated eight rhino from animal parks in Kent to Africa, where they have helped to boost wild populations. The successful relocations have already resulted in ‘the birth of at least fifteen calves in the last 24 years,’ according to a spokesperson for the foundation. In addition to those moved by the foundation, another 11 black rhinos have been moved from Europe by air to ‘safe havens around the world’ without incident.
Damian Aspinall, Chairman of the foundation, said, ‘Like everyone at The Aspinall Foundation, I am shocked and devastated by the loss. We do not yet know what caused his death, but we will, of course, carry out every examination and enquiry possible to see if there are lessons to be learned.’
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Today’s the big day: Zambezi will be leaving @portlympnepark to go #BackToTheWild, joining a new crash at @grumetifund and breeding for the repopulation of his species. This is the way forward: conservation in-situ, not in zoos! Obviously I’ll be sad to see him go, but I’m feeling overwhelming pride in the vital work we do. #conservationist #wildlifeconservation #portlympne #rhino #protectwildlife #aspinallfoundation #grumetireserve