For the first time in 50 years, black rhinos will be roaming across their native plains once more.

Thanks to an international collaboration between South Africa and Chad, 6 critically-endangered black rhinos – two male, four female – were sedated and flown from the South African city of Port Elizabeth to their new home in Chad’s Zakouma National Park.

The reintroduction of the black rhino to the wilds of Chad has been called a “historic” and “unprecedented” conservational victory.

Due to poaching, black rhinos have not been seen in the Chadian wilderness since the 1970s. However, conservational nonprofit African Parks says that Zakouma has become a “safe haven for some of the most important wildlife populations in Central Africa, driving its emergence as one of the continent’s most astonishing conservation success stories.”

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Over the course of the last seven years alone, African Parks has practically eliminated poaching from Zakouma, and two of those years were spent specifically preparing for the reintroduction of the black rhino.

The organization said in a statement: “While the threat of poaching is ever-constant, security measures have been implemented specifically to ensure the ongoing safety and wellbeing of the rhinos in the park. A dedicated rhino ranger unit has been established. They received advanced training to ensure the rhinos are well protected.

“In addition to Zakouma’s well-equipped law enforcement team, aerial surveillance and numerous other security measures have been implemented specifically for the reintroduction of rhino.”

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With a little bit of time, conservationists believe that the six rhinos will eventually breed to become the most northern black rhino herd in Africa.

“All too often, headlines on rhinos are about their demise as they teeter on the brink of extinction. However, today we are participating in an historic event and peering into a brighter future for this species which has persisted on this planet for millions of years,” said Peter Fearnhead, CEO of African Parks.

“It is a story of hope for a species that has become the icon of a global conservation crisis. African Parks reintroduced rhinos to Rwanda growing their range in Africa in 2017, within a year extending it further with Chad becoming the twelfth country in which they occur,” African Parks said in their statement.

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