Last year, we supported training for canine units across Africa, helped spread rhino conservation messages to more than 215,000 people in China, joined forces with others to rescue the Sumatran rhino, and witnessed poaching numbers drop below 1,000 for the first time in five years.
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Increasing the protection and monitoring of rhinos is key to giving all five species a future. Much of our work centres on improving rhino protection and monitoring so that we can reduce the key threats facing rhinos: poaching and habitat loss.
rhino horn transponders to improve monitoring at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park.
Rhino populations must be kept safe and monitored closely if they are to grow, especially if the poaching threat is intense. This requires well-equipped and trained ranger teams working around the clock. Your support has enabled us to purchase ranger essentials (such as uniforms, tents and food) and rhino monitoring equipment, as well as provide important training. In 2018-19, our funding helped provide first-aid training to 41 staff at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park in South Africa, enabling them to treat injuries in the field.
In Asia, lack of suitable habitat is the biggest threat for rhinos, as all Javan rhinos are in one national park, and Sumatran rhinos are so few and far between that they struggle to build their numbers . In 2019, we joined Sumatran Rhino Rescue, a groundbreaking partnership to save the Sumatran rhino from extinction. The project is building capacity in Sumatran rhino breeding facilities, rescuing isolated rhinos to bring them closer together, and protecting all individuals within a special conservation breeding programme, hoping to boost the numbers of this rare species.
In the past year, thanks to the Sumatran Rhino Rescue Project, the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary has been expanded, doubling its size and increasing capacity for new rhinos.
Poaching and wildlife trafficking are lucrative forms of transnational organised crime that have decimated populations of rhinos and other wildlife species. To combat this, we must boost cross-border collaboration.
30 canine units
together to share expertise and develop skills.
Over the last year, we helped create a network of anti-poaching canine units across Africa by delivering a workshop for canine unit professionals. The workshop provided practitioners and other stakeholders with the opportunity to share knowledge, gain experience and learn canine-specific techniques to combat wildlife crime.
We also helped to facilitate the 13th IUCN SSC African Rhino Specialist Group (AfRSG) in February 2019. These meetings, which are held every 2–3 years, play a key part in coordinating and capacity building for rhino conservation efforts in Africa, and in the collection of data and situation assessments for reporting to international bodies such as CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species).
"Collaboration for conservation is at the heart of our work; we know that we can maximise our conservation impact by playing an effective ‘match-making’ role."
It takes a community to save a rhino. By working with people living in and around the places we work and listening to what they need, we can improve the chances for rhinos to thrive.
Rafiki wa Faru gave
the chance to understand more about rhinos, as well as 71 teachers and 83 village elders.
Working closely with local leaders and schools, the Rafiki wa Faru education programme in Mkomazi National Park, Tanzania, brings students into the Park for conservation talks and activities. During each session, students improve their understanding of Tanzania’s long-term rhino conservation goals.
Each talk emphasises the importance of protecting rhinos as an umbrella species, explaining how rhinos are protected from poaching and why this security is essential to benefit rhinos and people.
Through the programme, Rafiki wa Faru is winning over the hearts and minds of every visitor that comes into the Sanctuary, improving local education and inspiring everyone in the community to love rhinos.
In championing community-led conservation, we want to encourage people living near rhinos to feel inspired to protect them, including communities in rhino conservation programmes in as many ways as possible.
Challenging the illegal wildlife trade requires action on several fronts, from anti-poaching operations in rhino range states, through the disruption of smuggling routes and dissembling criminal networks, to reducing demand for illegal wildlife products in consumer markets.
We helped reach more than
people in China, sharing important messages about illegal wildlife trade.
In 2018-19, we partnered with TRAFFIC to deliver rhino conservation campaigns to consumers in China and Vietnam to drive down demand for illegal rhino horn. By understanding why people want to buy horn, we can deliver tailored messages that change consumer behaviour.
In 2019, we also conducted a review of the antique rhino horn trade in the UK, thanks to one of our supporters Sue, who had been collecting information from auction houses. After analysis of the data, we suggested immediate ‘best practice’ improvements and longer-term changes that should be made. In the months following the publication, a number of high-profile international auction houses announced that they would stop selling any form of rhino horn.
By identifying consumer groups consuming rhino horn and understanding how they are influenced, initiatives can be developed that work towards a sustained and transformative change in attitudes and overall, this illegal trade can be stopped.