International Rhino Foundation
More than 25 years ago, Zimbabwe’s black rhino population was decreasing at an alarming rate from intense, organised poaching. In response, a group of concerned individuals and institutions founded the Black Rhino Foundation in 1989 to assist in the conservation of black rhinos in Zimbabwe through efforts in the wild and in captivity. In part because of the Black Rhino Foundation’s support, poaching was virtually eliminated and Zimbabwe’ black rhino population began to stabilise. In most areas throughout the species’ range, numbers are now increasing.
In 1993, recognising that the escalating crisis facing all five rhino species was not receiving the attention it deserved, the Black Rhino Foundation expanded its mission and became the International Rhino Foundation.
The International Rhino Foundation (IRF) is dedicated to the survival of the world’s rhino species through conservation and research. At the heart of IRF’s vision is the belief that these magnificent species should endure for future generations, and that protecting rhinos ensures the survival of many other species that share their habitat, including people.
All five living rhino species (black, white, Greater one-horned, Sumatran and Javan) are in terrible peril: from poaching, from forest loss and habitat conversion, and from human settlements encroaching on their habitats in Africa, Indonesia and India. IRF works to protect particularly threatened rhino populations (and their habitats) in the wild, while also supporting management of and research on captive populations to improve the chances for long-term survival.
IRF operates in situ programmes in Asia and Africa targeted to the rhino species most in need of and most appropriate for intensive protection and management. These anti-poaching and protection programmes also provide significant benefits for numerous other threatened species and for the entire ecosystems in which the animals live. In all its field programmes, IRF work closely with local communities to ensure that those people living in closest proximity to rhinos (many of whom are also struggling as a result of poverty and environmental degradation) will serve as active partners in wildlife protection and will reap direct benefits from conservation efforts.
IRF’s current major programmes include:
- Indonesia Rhino Protection Unit programme, anti-poaching patrol units which protect Sumatran and Javan rhinos in the wild
- the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary, a research and breeding centre for Sumatran rhinos in Way Kambas National Park
- Javan rhino habitat expansion in Ujung Kulon National Park
- Indian Rhino Vision 2020, a programme aimed at increasing the number of Greater one-horned rhinos and spreading the population out over more protected areas
- Zimbabwe’s Lowveld Rhino Conservation Programme, which provides management, monitoring and veterinary interventions for black rhinos in Zimbabwe
- and Stop Poaching Now, an initiative to provide funding to bolster anti-poaching and security work in South Africa and Zimbabwe
IRF also sponsors scientific research that enhances the health and viability of captive rhino populations and maximizes their contribution to conservation in nature.