The North Carolina Zoo is part of an effort to conserve the habitat of black rhinos in Africa, where attempts to protect them have become harder after the pandemic struck.

Part of the plan is to expand the use of software that helps rangers assess the threat of poachers who hunt the animals for their horns, which are sold on an international black market. 

Black rhinoceroses once roamed much of southern and eastern Africa, but poaching has reduced their numbers. There are fewer than 6,000 in the wild now.

In Namibia, money from tourism is used to fund the conservation effort, which has helped the population return a bit. But that money dried up when the pandemic hit and global tourism slumped sharply.

The North Carolina Zoo is contributing to the conservation effort with help from a $50,000 grant from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. 

The effort to assist the black rhinos also will help preserve white rhino habitat. 

A herd of the animals is known as a “crash” of rhinos. The North Carolina Zoo has a crash of nine females, including two calves born last year.

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