Air Charter Service helps reintroduce white rhinos to DRC

Rhinos in their new home in the DRC. Copyright: Martin van Rooyen via Air Charter Service

Charter broker Air Charter Service recently helped non-profit conservation organisation African Parks to relocate 16 southern white rhinos to Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), from a private game reserve in South Africa.

ACS used a Hercules L-100 aircraft to carry out the job within a week. The relocation involved two flights due to the weight of the animals.

Lyndee du Toit, ACS South Africa’s chief executive, said: “The last northern white rhino was poached in the DRC in 2006 and this project, arranged by African Parks, is part of a ground-breaking effort to restore the ecological balance of one of Africa’s oldest national parks.

“We were contacted by African Parks to source a suitable solution for the transportation of 16 rhinos from Phinda Private Game Reserve in South Africa to Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

“We decided that a Hercules L-100 would be the best fit for the job, largely because of its ability to land on short, dirt runways. The rear-loading capability of the Herc was also utilised as Barrick’s Kibali Mine airstrip in north eastern DRC didn’t have sufficient equipment to assist in offloading the rhinos.

“Using this aircraft meant that two flights were needed, as each rhino weighed around two tons or more. Through careful planning, we were able to perform both flights in the same week, with both being loaded at night and both arriving at first light in Kibali.”

African Parks’ chief executive Peter Fearnhead said: “Now that Garamba is a safe location and has proper protection in place, this reintroduction is the start of a process whereby southern white rhino as the closest genetic alternative can fulfil the role of the northern white rhino in the landscape.”

The relocation of the rhinos was achieved through a collaboration with the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN), African Parks and Beyond, and was sponsored by the Barrick Gold Corporation who have agreed to support the project over the next few years.

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Rebecca Jeffrey

Rebecca Jeffrey
New to aviation journalism, I joined Air Cargo News in late 2021 as deputy editor. I previously worked for Mercator Media’s six maritime sector magazines as a reporter, heading up news for Port Strategy. Prior to this, I was editor for Recruitment International (now TALiNT International). Contact me on: [email protected]