Dundas London: So Beezie, I understand that it’s been a very exciting week - what’s going on?
Bezzie Burden: We have just helped complete the largest ever translocation of black rhino back into Tanzania so yes - ever so slightly!
DL: You guys are custodians of large parts of the Serengeti, what are you up against?
BB: At the turn of the century we inherited a biodiversity crisis that we are still working hard to help recover. Severe loss of habitat and rife illegal wildlife trade continues to put massive pressure on a myriad of species - including the eastern black rhino.
DL: What’s the significance of the translocation exactly?
BB: Black rhinos are a critically endangered species with fewer than 5,000 left in the world (down from 65,000 in the 1970s). The rhinos that we are reintroducing are descendants of those taken out of East Africa in the 1970’s as part of a conservation program to protect against poaching. This specific “eastern” subspecies will play a very valuable role in the diversification of genetics amongst rhino populations in the Serengeti ecosystem.
Ready to disembark.
DL: What makes this now possible?
BB: We are only now able to reintroduce them back into their natural habitat because it has taken 17 years to create safe areas for them to thrive once more. And it’s not just us, there are many organisations working in partnership to make progress, including the Tanzanian government.
DL: Moving rhinos around must be fairly complex, I’m sure it’s not as simple as buying them a ticket!
BB: That’s for sure! But the transportation was just one phase of a very complex project involving multiple translocations of eastern black rhino from all around the world. It has taken a year, involved multiple partners and cost millions of dollars… and $250,000 in airfares!
DL: Will our readers be able to visit the park and see these wonderful creatures in the wild soon?
BB: Yes! Currently three of the nine rhino introduced have been released into the greater Serengeti and we recently identified a female rhino in the area which is a great sign that we are on the right path. If any of your readers are interested in visiting, booking a trip through our partners Singita is the very best way of having an unbeatable safari experience.
Heavy lifting, moving the rhinos into their holding pens.
DL: Finally, how are your rangers enjoying the shirts?
BB: Very much so, they are very well suited to our climate which can get hot during the day and cool at night. We can be out in the park for days so comfort is very important, as is durability - it’s not like we can easily pop down the shops round here!
DL: Many thanks Beezie, it’s great to know that at least one herd is in safe hands.
BB: Thanks for all your support!
To support World Rhino Day, Dundas will be donating 100% of the profits from our Safari shirts to The Grumeti Fund this month.
Interviewed by Peter Macdonald for Dundas London. Photography by Sacha Specker. To find out more, visit The Grumeti Fund