Rhino Darting Operation in Liwonde, Malawi

In the last few months, Wilderness Safaris Malawi has been involved in a large scale rhino darting operation in Liwonde National Park, supported by various partners including the Wilderness Wildlife Trust.

Led by Chief Veterinary Officer of the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s African Rhino Specialist Group, Dr Pete Morkel, the aim of the darting operation was to fit VHF transmitters on as many black rhinos as possible in order to maximise monitoring efficiency of the population in the face of intensifying poaching pressure in the park. Since November 2012, daily patrols involving professional rhino trackers of the DNPW Rhino Protection Team and Krisztián Gyöngyi (Rhino Monitoring and Research Ecologist) have been conducted to monitor, protect and record relevant ecological data on the species living in and outside the Sanctuary. The new transmitters will not only increase the monitoring efficiency of the rhino, but locating them in the park will also be considerably easier.

“We had to ensure that the rhino were darted before the oncoming wet season and were thrilled with the success of the operation. Days were long, with early 4:30am starts. The team worked hard and as a result five rhinos were captured and treated during the 13-day campaign. We covered approximately 190km on foot, spending 118 hours actively tracking rhino in the bush.We were also grateful for the support and assistance of Dr Amanda Salb of the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre and James Kamtsokota from African Parks Majete, whose exemplary tracking skills and knowledge of black rhino behaviour played an important role in finding the rhino”, said Mr Gyöngyi.