Sh1.2b needed to re-introduce rhinos

RHINO Fund Uganda (RFU) needs US$688,000 (about sh1.2b) to breed 40 black and white rhinos at Zziwa ranchers in the river Kafu basin in Nakasongola district, reports Gerald Tenywa.

RFU coordinator Yvonne Verkaik said they would establish a rhino sanctuary and rear the rhinos for re-introduction into Murchison and Kidepo national parks.

She said the fund was needed under phase two of the rhino project to erect an electric fence, visitors' centre, a lodge, airstrip and import the rhinos.

Verkaik was speaking at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre in Entebbe while receiving a donation of sh500,000 from SKAL, a global network of hotel and tour operators.

After breeding, the rhinos will be introduced in their natural habitat in Murchison and Kidepo national parks, she said. Uganda's white rhinos in Murchison and the black rhinos in Kidepo became extinct in the early 1980s due to heavy poaching which thrived because of the insecurity in the area.

Last year, RFU imported two white rhinos, Kabira and Sherhino, from Solio Ranch in Kenya. They are kept at the wildlife education centre to create awareness about the plight of rhinos. Verkaik said the sanctuary is expected to be fully operational by December 2003.