Four members of the IRF team, board members John Lukas and Rick Barongi, advisory board member Steve Shurter, and program officer Bill Konstant, recently participated in a strategic planning conservation workshop at Florida’s Jacksonville Zoo. The four were among 26 specialists whose expertise was drawn upon to help the zoo in develop a program best suited to the institution’s strengths and potential. In addition to white rhinos, the Jacksonville Zoo is home to many other species that are also threatened in the wild, including several endangered large cats.
Do you plan on giving back today? Consider giving rhinos a hand! After Black Friday and Cyber Monday have lightened pocketbooks, #GivingTuesday is an opportunity to truly celebrate the true meaning of holidays by encouraging charitable activities that support nonprofit organizations like IRF. Your contributions support rhino conservation efforts worldwide with 90% going directly to the field. Support IRF with a tax-deductible donation.
Use the #GivingTuesday hashtag to support this national campaign on your social media networks and encourage friends and family to give rhinos a hand.
The day after the American Thanksgiving holiday has come to be known as Black Friday. Although its name has a rather ominous sound, it marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season and has a very positive commercial context. Black Friday is regarded by many as the day that businesses begin to show a profit for the year –the day they begin to operate “in the black” versus “in the red”.
This year, the International Rhino Foundation has decided to call the day after Thanksgiving Black Rhino Friday – a day to take stock of black rhino populations around the world. The black rhino was once the most abundant of the world’s rhinos, probably numbering in the hundreds of thousands of animals throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, but unregulated hunting and poaching reduced the wild population to perhaps 2,500 individuals in the early 1990s – a loss of more than 95% that brought the species close to the brink of extinction. This near catastrophe, in fact, was what gave birth to the International Rhino Foundation.
Black Rhino Friday falls on November 29th this year. For an update on the African black rhino’s status and efforts that are helping to ensure its survival, please visit our website (www.rhinos.org) today.
Through the end of the year, the International Rhino Foundation will be sharing the latest information on the status of each of the five rhino species, including a wish list for helping to turn the population crisis around for that species. There are five species of rhinos, and it is our wish that all five are assured their long-term survival. This holiday season, give rhinos a hand!
In honor of the holiday shopping season that kicks off this week, we’re starting with black rhinos. Shopping online? Please take a minute to support Black Rhino Friday with a gift to our black rhino conservation programs.
Black Rhinos in Peril
A shot rang out. Under the light of the waning moon in Zimbabwe , poachers hunted down and shot Teressa, a black rhino cow, with a silenced AK-47. She and her two-month old calf, Joe, ran blindly into the darkness, trying desperately to flee. Teressa, with a bullet wound to her right shoulder, quickly tired and eventually could go no further. She lay down in the cover of heavy brush. In the meantime, rhino monitors raced to the scene, but it was too dark to find either the poachers or Teressa and Joe. The next day, rhino monitors, hoping against hope, worked frantically to locate all of the rhinos in the area . They eventually came upon Teressa and Joe lying in the brush, unable to get to food or water. The veterinary team was called and quickly arrived. Mother and calf were immobilized for treatment and moved to holding pens for recovery. Eventually, they were released back into the wild.
Most poaching attempts don’t end this well. Throughout southern Africa, adult rhinos, male and female, young and old, are losing their lives to well-armed, ruthless criminal gangs. Frightened calves often flee the scene, and if they are very young, they don’t survive without their mother’s care.
Cautious Hope for the Future
Black rhino populations declined by an estimated 98% between 1960 and 1995, with numbers bottoming out at approximately 2,400 and losses mainly attributable to poaching. Since 1995, however, black rhino numbers have been steadily increasing, doubling to more than 5,000 today. Without your help, this progress could disappear in the blink of an eye, as an unsustainable resurgence of poaching — especially in southern Africa where the black rhino makes its home — is threatening the species once again.
The International Rhino Foundation is working to ensure that black rhinos survive through programs in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, South Africa and the United States, through a combination of protection, translocation, hand-rearing of orphans, the rehabilitation and release of injured animals, and managed breeding. And it’s important to understand that these efforts also benefit other threatened species such as cheetahs, lions, African wild dogs, and elephants.
Consider crossing off an item on our Black Rhino Friday wish list to help keep the momentum going for black rhino conservation:
$ 25 = A single dose of antibiotics to treat an injured rhino
$ 50 = A sleeping bag for a rhino monitor
$ 65 = A pair of binoculars help with rhino identification in the field
$100 = Safe immobilization of an injured rhino
$150 = A horn transmitter that helps monitors to track rhinos
$ 250 = A month’s worth of meals for a rhino monitoring team
$ 500 = Solar lights for a rhino monitoring camp
$1,000 = 4 days of veterinary care for an injured rhino
$2,000 = A month’s salary for a rhino monitoring and protection team
Thank you for giving rhinos a hand!
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium invited IRF program officer Bill Konstant to speak last week as part of its annual wildlife conservation lecture series. His presentation – The Year of the Rhino: What’s Next? – was given at the Ohio State University’s Fawcett Center and was dedicated to the memory of IRF founding director Tom Foose. The Columbus Zoo provides generous support to IRF rhino conservation programs in Africa and Asia.
Following the presentation, Bill was given a behind-the-scenes tour of The Wilds, one of the largest and most innovative wildlife centers in the world, managed by the Columbus Zoo and home to more than two dozen threatened species ranging from rhinos to hellbenders to burying beetles. The two rhino species in residence are the greater one-horned and white rhino. The Wilds is the only special breeding center to have produced fourth generation white rhino calves.
In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy uttered a phrase similar to the title, but it began with Lions. Had she, the Tin Man, Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion taken a course in zoogeography – the study of animal distributions – they wouldn’t have worried about encountering lions, tigers and bears as they walked through the Haunted Forest. The chances of meeting up with all three creatures anywhere on the planet- save for a zoo – are essentially nil. Lions are largely African cats, while tigers are found in Asia. The ranges of several bear species overlap those of tigers throughout much of Asia, and the sloth bear coexists with a small population of Asiatic lions in northwestern India’s Gir forests. However, in nature, lions, tigers and bears are not sympatric, i.e., all three don’t occupy the same habitats.
Now, if we substitute rhinos for lions, it’s a completely different story. These three creatures do, in fact, live together in a number of different places, which are largely those that have become final strongholds for rhinos and tigers. As you might guess, none are in Kansas, so Dorothy would have been right when she determined that she wasn’t there anymore. The number of localities occupied by rhinos, tigers and bears are few. You can count them using two hands and one foot. Three of the localities are on the island of Sumatra, where the representative species are the Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis), Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrensis) and Malayan sun bear (Helarctos malayanus). Ten other protected areas harboring rhinos, tigers and bears are located in northeastern India and neighboring Nepal. There the trio consists of the greater one-horned rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis), the Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) and at least one, if not two species of bear – the sloth bear (Melursus ursinus) and the Asiatic black bear (Selenarctos thibetanus).
Unfortunately, all of these large mammals and their remaining habitats are threatened to some degree, so it is incredibly important that efforts to safeguard their future continue. Rhinos, tigers and bears can serve as flagships for broader wildlife conservation programs that protect dozens of other endangered plant and animal species, especially since people will travel the world for the rare opportunity to see them protected in their natural habitats. Three projects supported by the International Rhino Foundation that benefit all three flagship species include Rhino Protection Units (RPUs) in Indonesia’s Bukit Barisan Selatan and Way Kambas National Park’s, and the reintroduction of greater one-horned rhinos to Assam’s Manas National Park under the auspices of Indian Rhino Vision 2020.
IRF Executive Director Dr. Susie Ellis will give an update on the world’s rhinos and introduce the world premiere of the film Rhinoceroses: The Curse of the Magic Horn by Spanish film maker Esteban Suchowolski at 8 pm, Sunday, October 20th at the New York Wildlife Conservation Film Festival in Manhattan.
Rhinoceroses: The Curse of the Magic Horn
* World Premiere
Through three different stories we will get to know the variety, habits and threats of all species of rhinoceroses that still live on the planet. We will meet a young black rhino chosen to repopulate a territory in Kenya where poachers have made its entire species disappear. In India, a rhino is facing a more limited world day by day, sharing their habitat with elephants and tigers. Finally, we get deep in the jungles of Borneo to follow the traces of the most scarce and elusive of all, a Sumatran rhino, desperately seeking a mate in the jungle where those animals are becoming a yearning memory. In this documentary we will know the five living species of rhinos that still inhabit the planet: the White, the Black, the Indian, Javan and Sumatran rhinoceroses.
For a full schedule of films and to purchase tickets, go to http://iam.wcff.org/.
IRF partner, YABI recently celebrate World Rhino Day 2013 at Taman Safari Indonesia. Families of YABI and people at the Taman Safari Indonesia were invited to come out and celebrate all things rhino and take photos with YABI’s rhino mascot.
Get updates about Greater One-Horned Rhinos direct from the field with this informative blog from WWF-India member Deba Kumar Dutta.