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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Tanzania defends its decision of importing a black rhino

ARUSHA Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Tanzania on Monday defended its decision of importing a male black rhino from the United States to help in breeding the endangered species.

The eight-year-old male East African black rhino known as Eric from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park was last week successfully moved to Tanzania’s western Serengeti National Park, in an effort to save the critically endangered species from extinction.

Faustine Masalu, Tanzania’s acting director of the wildlife division in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, defended the move saying it was not only for multiplying the number of rhinos in Tanzania but also improving the rhinos’ gene pool through cross-breeding.

“Eric is a strong rhino and we are confident this will be manifested through its off-springs,” Masalu said.

Masalu said Eric roots were from a tropical zone and was indeed sub species from Africa, and the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute and the Tanzania Wildlife Authority had been consulted before the undertaking.

“All processes were followed including engaging wildlife authorities and researchers,” said Masalu.

“It will remain in a small enclosure before it is released into the wild as it tries to acclimatize its new home,” said Masalu, adding that Eric will be under the watchful eyes of veterinary officers all the time.

The ecological undertaking involving the 1,157-kilogram black rhino was planned, organized and coordinated by Singita Grumeti Fund (SGF), a non-profit organization carrying out wildlife conservation and community development work in the western corridor of the Serengeti ecosystem in Tanzania.

Eric, who is now acclimatizing to its new home in the 350,000-acre private concession, is said to be a gift to Tanzania by San Diego Zoo as a way of increasing population of the critically endangered eastern black rhino within the greater Serengeti ecosystem.

However, the move faces strong criticism from local media, with some questioning Tanzania’s ability in conserving its wildlife.

             

 

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