New Delhi: Decades after it was last seen in Chad, the critically endangered species of Black Rhinos may soon make an appearance again after an agreement was signed between South Africa and the central African country.
Environment ministers from the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding "which will allow for the translocation of six black rhino from South Africa to Chad," said a government statement yesterday.
The Black Rhino population is inching towards an early decline due to hunting and poaching. However, conservation efforts have seen black rhino numbers boost upwards after a long time. Even so, black rhinos remain critically endangered, with poaching for their horns posing a constant threat to their survival.
The last time a rhino was spotted in Chad was in 1972, according to official documents Chad submitted to South Africa.
The animals should be airlifted to Chad's Zakouma National Park "sometime next year. We are looking at around March, April or May" environmental affairs ministry spokesman Albi Modise told AFP.
Black rhinos are officially listed as critically endangered but are still native to the mainly eastern and southern African countries of Angola, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
They have been re-introduced to several other southern African countries.
There are around 5,000 black rhino left in Africa with South Africa's population sitting at 1,893, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
South Africa is also home to around 20,000 white rhinos, about 80 percent of the worldwide population, but the country has suffered record poaching in recent years.
Poachers have killed more than 7,100 rhinos in Africa over the past decade for their horns.
The horn is highly prized in China and Vietnam where it is coveted as a traditional medicine and aphrodisiac.
South Africa's Environment Minister Edna Molewa and Chad counterpart Ahmat Mbodou Mahamat signed Sunday's deal in Pretoria.
(With PTI inputs)