In News
Photo Credits: Black rhino cow and calf: Cathy Withers-Clarke

Zimbabwe now holds the fourth-largest population of rhinos in Africa. 

Dear Tracey ,

I am thrilled to share some good news as we usher in the New Year! The number of rhinos in Zimbabwe has surpassed the 1,000 milestone: 616 black rhinos and 417 white, according to the International Rhino Foundation. This is in line with our National management strategy plan to grow the population by 5% per annum.

This remarkable success is a result of conservation organizations, private landowners, and Zimbabwe’s wildlife agencies that manage various populations of both the Southern White Rhino and the Black Rhino in Zimbabwe. It is also, in part, thanks to you! Your support of Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust has funded our efforts in this collaborative and international race to save Zimbabwe’s rhino populations. And, at the end of this year, all rhino funds will be matched up to $5,000!

After you, our Wildlife Forensics and Pathology Lab is at the heart of our efforts. Every time we immobilize a rhino, we analyse and store tissue and blood samples to help understand the animal’s health and genetics. Looking forward to 2024, our laboratory team will begin working with international partner TRACE to internally develop a black rhino genetics panel to track the genetic diversity of the different populations. Over time, we hope to continue to refine the panel to be able to identify animals individually for wildlife forensics casework.

As many of Zimbabwe’s rhinos are fragmented into pockets of rhino in conservancies and some national parks, these genetic panels will also inform husbandry efforts. Maximizing genetic variability plays an important role in how we physically move animals for the population as a whole. We hope in time to build a robust panel that can then be applied to other populations throughout Africa so that more populations can be safeguarded.

Another valuable and generous development occurred this year when a group of friends and donors, the “U.S. Friends of Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust,” provided funds for a DNA sequencing device along with one year’s operating costs. We can now do this work in-house, saving significant time and money.

Our forensic laboratory technician, McDonald Shiri, received sponsorship to undergo DNA sequencing and genetics training in both Uganda and Malaysia.

We hope you’ll help us continue growing Zimbabwe’s black rhino population by supporting our efforts to decode the genetic information of individual animals and the overall population, which will contribute to the sustainable growth of these magnificent creatures.

Rhinos have been facing significant threats over the last century; numbers have decreased by a sobering 98% throughout Africa. The fact that we have an increasing population and the fourth largest on the continent is no small feat. This will be a gift like no other – and it will be matched dollar for dollar by one of our generous Florida donors up to $5,000.

With sincere thanks for all that you do,

Dr. Chris Foggin

Chief Wildlife Veterinarian

VICTORIA FALLS WILDLIFE TRUST
PO Box 159, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe | +263 782 799 006
PO Box 23183, San Diego, CA 92193 | 619-602-1725
9 The Clock Tower, Redlers Waterside, Dudbridge Rd., Stroud GL5 3LH, UK
+44 (0)74 76 227 684

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