Mission: To raise international awareness of the threats rhinos face; to promote the protection of these endangered animals; and to raise money for in situ conservation programmes.
Location: Africa, Asia and India
Amount donated: £25,000 to go towards two projects: The Hluhluwe EAZA rhino security equipment funding and a Rhino horn fingerprinting project.
Background: Rhinos have been on Earth for millions of years but today they face crisis. Just 30 years ago the total world rhino population numbered around 70,000; today there are thought to be as little as 18,000 left. Of the five species of rhino, four are critically endangered and one is conservation dependant. The main threats this species face in the wild are hunting for their horns to be made into Traditional Chinese Medicine or into traditional Yemeni dagger handles. In addition, rhinos are at risk from habitat loss as their homes are being destroyed, paving the way for human homes, fields for agriculture, to provide trees for logging, wood burning and for charcoal.
The Hluhluwe EAZA rhino security equipment project is based in South Africa. The money donated by Action for the Wild will be used to buy equipment for anti-poaching teams, such as rifle safes and camping equipment. This will enable field ranger patrols to camp out at high-risk times of the day, to increase the security of the black and white rhinos that inhabit the game reserve and thus reduce poaching within the area.
The Rhino horn-fingerprinting project will use donated money to investigate forensic techniques to identify the species and source location of rhino horns recovered in busts. This information will be put onto a database to develop a forensic test to predict the source of illegal horns and identify the illegal trade routes. This information will be essential in fighting the illegal trade in rhino horn.
Achievements: 123 EAZA member institutions and 11 non-EAZA members participated; Over €650,000 were raised for the conservation of rhinos in the wild; and a total of 22 conservation projects were being supported.
With only about 90 zoos holding rhinos, one of the challenges was how to engage the support of zoos that didn’t house them. This was achieved by using rhinos as a flagship species for the diverse species that share the same habitats and benefit from the presence of rhinos. The success of this strategy was reflected in the fact that 123 EAZA institutions and 11 non-members (schools, etc.) participated in the campaign.
The initial fundraising target for the campaign was €350,000. However the campaign proved to be so successful that eventually more than €660,000 were raised, enabling the support of greater number of projects than initially envisaged.