LUSAKA, Nov 14 - Zambia's efforts to reintroduce and breed endangered white rhino suffered a blow this week as one of the only five rhinos imported from South Africa was found dead floating on the Zambezi River Monday.
Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) Director General Hapenga Kabeta said the white rhino, fondly known as Gunboat, was found floating on the Zambezi river in the Mosi-u-tunya National Park in Livingstone, Southern Province, where the world famous Victoria Falls are located.
He said it is suspected that the animal died after a fight with another surviving rhino which sustained wounds on the head and back.
ZAWA has since reviewed the protection and monitoring of the remaining four white rhinos in the park to avoid the recurrence of such a tragedy, he said.
White rhino became an extinct animal in Zambia in early 1990s, mainly due to rampant poaching. The country then reintroduced five white rhinos from South Africa in 1995 and put them in the Mosi-u- tunya national park.
Kabeta said the population of the white rhino has not increased since their reintroduction in 1995, and the tragedy Monday has further compounded the situation.
He said experts have advised his organization that environmental factors could have contributed the problems.
He, however, said ZAWA's vision is to have the population of white rhino increased to 20 in the next three years.