Regrettably, we have further bad news to report from Chad. An additional two black rhino carcasses were discovered in Zakouma National Park last week, bringing the total mortalities to four, of the six that were reintroduced in May this year.
We can confirm that none of these rhinos werepoached and we are taking all actions to determine what may have resulted in their deaths.
Post-mortems have been conducted on the rhino carcasses and various samples of blood, tissue and fecal matter were sent to specialist pathology laboratories in South Africa.Histopathological results so far have indicated that infectious diseases or plant toxicity are not the cause of death. Serological evidence has however indicated exposure to trypanosomes, a blood borne parasite transmitted by tsetse flies, but at this stage this is not suspected to be the cause of the mortalities. Low fat reserves do suggest however that maladaptation by the rhinos to their new environment is the likely underlying cause, although tests to be undertaken on brain and spinal fluid may shed additional light on the exact cause of deaths.
On the advice of a team of veterinarians experienced in working with black rhinos, the remaining two animals are being recaptured and placed in holding facilities in order to facilitate closer management; and a SANParks veterinarian was dispatched to Zakouma National Park to assist with the process, and one rhino has already been recaptured and is doing well in their enclosure.
Collaboration among the Governments of the Republic of South Africa and the Republic of Chad, including SANParks and African Parks remains active as efforts continue to be made to establish clarity around the exact cause of deaths of the four rhinos, and to safeguard the remaining two animals.
We will keep you abreast of developments as more comes to light. A link to the official joint media statement can be found here, and more information about the project can be found here.