Only 19 rhinos remain in the wild in a South African sanctuary, but conservationists will put on a record-breaking show this week when a handful of rhinos are flown out of the country for a successful relocation to Switzerland.
Activists at South Africa’s Out of Africa Safari Village and Kruger National Park are planning a welcome-home ceremony with bagpipes and speeches this Sunday as they set out to move 11 rhinos.
South Africa, where 40 rhinos were killed last year to meet demand in Asia for horns purportedly used in ancient Asian remedies, has used translocation as a tool for ridding itself of the species. This year marks the largest translocation operation in the country’s history, as it also moved almost 100 rhinos from Namibia over three weeks. Out of Africa’s latest move will relocate 12 rhinos to a park in northwest Switzerland.
However, not all rhinos being transplanted out of the country end up in highly conserved environments. In 2016, two of the rhinos being transferred from Kruger died within a week of arriving in the Swiss parks. One is said to have died of old age and the other was thought to have contracted lung cancer.