FIVE of the world’s rarest animals – one of them from a North Yorkshire zoo – have returned to their ancestral roots to try to ensure the future of their threatened species.

The five Eastern black rhinoceros are now in the Akagera National Park in Rwanda getting used to their new home before they are released into a special sanctuary where their progress and safety will be closely monitored until they can be allowed to roam free.

Among the five newcomers is Olmoti, who was born at Flamingoland Theme Park Zoo, on the North York Moors, four years ago from a captive bred mother. The aim is that Olmoti, along with the two other female rhinos and two males, will increase the genetic diversity of the black rhino population in the Akagera Park as they have calves.

Olmoti left Flamingoland last year to travel to the Czech Republic to meet the other rhinos Jasiri, Jasmina, Manny and Mandela and acclimatize for her journey to Africa. The journey is an international scheme to save the subspecies.The animals were flown to their new home last week.

During the genocide 25 years ago, 800,000 people were killed in Rwanda and many wildlife populations were decimated. Under the management of the African Parks group, Akagera is rebuilding. They reintroduced lions 15 years after they disappeared and a small group of Eastern Black Rhinos were brought in in 2017. Olmoti and her friends are adding to that population.

Akagera Park Manager Jes Gruner said: “The newly translocated rhinos will bolster the founder group that we introduced in 2017, contributing to the reestablishment of a robust Eastern Black Rhino population in Rwanda.

“This unique achievement represents the culmination of an unprecedented international effort to improve the survival prospects of a critically endangered rhino subspecies in the wild. Their arrival also marks an important step in Akagera’s ongoing revitalisation, and one that underscores the country’s commitment to conservation.”

He said all five Eastern black rhinos were released into enclosures in the park where they will stay for at least three weeks to acclimatize before being released into a 10-hectare sanctuary where they will continue to be monitored before being released into the wider park.

Flamingoland staff travelled to Rwanda to see Olmoti arrive.