Critically endangered black rhino calf born in Aussie zoo

The Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo revealed on March 1 that a brand new female calf had arrived safely. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM TARONGA WESTERN PLAINS ZOO/FACEBOOK

SYDNEY (XINHUA) - An Australian zoo has welcomed the birth of a critically endangered black rhino calf, helping to support the species as the wild populations struggle for survival.

The Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo revealed on Monday (March 1) that a new female calf had arrived safely, and would spend several months alone with its mother before going on display to the public.

"This time is important for both mum and calf to bond and to allow the calf to grow and develop before making the move to the black rhino paddock on the zoo circuit," Taronga Western Plains Zoo Director Steve Hinks said.

The calf is the fourth to be born at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo over the past six years, as part of an internationally renowned conservation breeding programme, started in the 1990s. Unfortunately she is also the last child of the zoo's black rhino breeding bull, Kwanzaa, who died in 2020.

"Kwanzaa played a prominent role in the black rhino conservation breeding programme here in Dubbo, siring four calves, and it is such a great feeling to see his final calf arrive safely," Hinks said.

Between 1960 and 1995, black rhino numbers declined in the wild by 98 per cent due to European hunters and settlers, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Thanks to persistent conservation efforts across Africa and the world, their numbers have more than doubled from being on the brink of extinction 20 years ago, to around 6,000 today.

However the species remains critically endangered, with the illegal trafficking of rhino horn, among the main issues continuing to plague the species and threaten its recovery.

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