22 May, 2012, North Luangwa National Park, Zambia. Frankfurt Zoological Society is pleased to announce the birth of a black rhino calf, which brings the small population in North Luangwa National Park (NLNP) to 25 individuals. The rhino monitoring officers were tracking an adult female, Mapalo, on May 20th and they spotted calf footprints next to hers. The rhino monitoring officers will try to approach mother and calf again over the next few weeks in order to confirm the sex of the calf and assess their health.
In 2003, Mapalo was translocated as part of a bigger reintroduction programme to NLNP from Kruger National Park in South Africa. This is the second time Mapalo has given birth in North Luangwa National Park. In July 2008, she gave birth to her first calf, a female called Shangila (translates as “Be Strong”).
“This is excellent news and we are all very happy to see our black rhino population in North Luangwa growing”, said Claire Lewis, Project Technical Adviser for Frankfurt Zoological Society. “This is especially important for the team’s morale, as last year we had 3 calves born but 2 died. 2011 was a tough year – the rains stopped earlier than normal and were lower than average so by the end of the dry season we had suffered the loss of 6 rhinos, which we attribute to social and nutritional stress. With so much bad news coming out of Africa regarding rhino poaching, it is great to be able to report something positive!”
Frankfurt Zoological Society began a reintroduction project for black rhinos to Zambia in 2003, after this species had been declared nationally extinct in 1998. Between 2003 and 2010, 25 rhinos were translocated to North Luangwa National Park. The rhino reintroduction to North Luangwa is the largest translocation of this species ever undertaken on the continent.
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