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New arrival offers hope for black rhino

Yorkshire Wildlife Park has welcomed a special arrival in a bid to save the critically endangered black rhino from the brink of extinction.

As part of an ambitious international breeding programme,  two-year-old female Najuma was transferred from a German zoo.  When Najuma is old enough, she will be paired with three-year-old Makibo, who arrived at the park earlier this year. It is hoped they will go on to have calves that will eventually be reintroduced into the wild.

Co-ordinated by  The European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA), the breeding programme will allow the largest ever move of rhinos from Europe to Rwanda and will also include a comprehensive education, research and protection campaign.

“It was amazing to welcome Najuma and start settling her into the house. Hopefully in the future she will breed with Makibo, their offspring could be crucial to the future of the black rhino,” said Simon Marsh, Animal Collections Manager of the park at Branton, near Doncaster.

“With the zoo community working together, the idea is to breed black rhinos and to strategically introduce them into the wild to help save the species. We hope to play a part in this comprehensive programme in the future which demonstrates our commitment and the collaboration between European zoos and the Rwanda government to save the species.”

Due to poaching and habitat loss, black rhino numbers plunged to 2,300 before recent efforts helped the total to recover slightly to 5,000.

“There could be no better demonstration of the commitment of conservationists across two continents to the survival of rhinos than an action like this. We cannot stand idly by and allow this magnificent creature to be wiped off the face of the earth,” said EAZA Chair Thomas Kauffels.

The Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation funds anti-poaching patrols to protect rhinos in the wild and also supports facilities which care for orphaned rhino calves after their mothers have been tragically killed by poachers for their horn.

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