Rhino Mayday 2015

Mayday 2015 costumePhoto credit: Chester Zoo

Thank you to everyone who attended this years Rhino Mayday in Chester!

Please feel free to comment on this page and share your thoughts about the day. We would like to say thank you to the Chester Zoo for co-hosting the event and to all our amazing guest speakers.


  • Cathy Dean, Director, Save the Rhino International
  • Jamie Gaymer, Wildlife and Security Manager of Ol Jogi Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya
  • Katherine Ellis, Communications Manager of Save the Rhino International
  • Friederike von Howald, Chair of EAZA Rhino Taxon Advisory Group, Curator of Basel Zoo and International Stud Book Keeper for Indian Rhinos
  • Richard Thomas, Global Communications Co-ordinator of TRAFFIC
  • Susie Offord, Deputy Director of Save the Rhino International
  • Marc Granville, Senior Investigation Officer at National Crime Agency, Manchester Airport
  • Rod Potter, Wildlife Investigator at Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, South Africa
  • Tomasz Rusek, Parliamentary Adviser at European Parliament

Mayday 2015 speakersPhoto credit: Chester Zoo


Rhino conservation efforts in Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and Namibia

Cathy Dean – Director of Save the Rhino International

Following Susie Ellis’s keynote speech the previous day, Cathy provided an overview of conservation efforts in these other rhino range states over the last year. Save the Rhino is involved in supporting the Association of Private Land Rhino Sanctuaries and the new population of rhinos in Borana Conservancy with funding for scene-of-the-crime training (in partnership with Chester Zoo) and ranger accommodation, translocations and transmitters for the translocated rhinos (with USFWS). In Tanzania, the Serengeti rhino reintroduction project has been halted after the poaching of two or three of the five rhinos that were translocated from South Africa. Save the Rhino is involved in Mkomazi, where there have been no poaching incidents to date, with support for the Rhino Sanctuary – a vehicle, outposts etc. and the environmental education programme, Rafiki wa Faru. Maggie Esson, Education Programmes Manager at Chester Zoo, developed the curriculum and teaching materials for Rafiki with very specific education messages. In Zambia, the environmental education programme Lolesha Luangwa, which Save the Rhino supports with help from Disney, USFWS and ZSL, teaches school children a range of environmental issues focusing on black rhinos but including wildlife, waste and water management; ZSL carries out detailed monitoring and evaluation of Lolesha Luangwa’s impact. There have been high levels of poaching in Namibia, especially in Etosha National Park. Consequently there have been ongoing investigations, increased training of Park staff, and attempts to work with private conservancies surrounding the Park; Save the Rhino is helping – with USFWS support – by funding a new vet vehicle, dehorning operations and a training course on managing informants. Cathy also addressed a range of ‘thorny issues’, including poisoning of rhino horn and horn stockpiles.

Mayday 2015 Cathy presentationPhoto credit: Chester Zoo

The Association of Private Land Rhino Sanctuaries in Kenya. A brief introduction with emphasis on the use of dogs

Jamie Gaymer - Wildlife and Security Manager of Ol Jogi Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya

In Kenya 57% of rhinos are found on private land and space is the second biggest threat to rhinos in the country after poaching. There has been poaching in Kenya at a similar percentage of the rhino population compared to South Africa. Recently Sera Community Conservancy has joined the Association of Private Land Rhino Sanctuaries (APLRS). Some APLRS member sanctuaries are using tracker and attack dogs, such as Bloodhounds and Belgian Malinois, as part of their management strategy to find poachers and protect rhinos. Jamie described them as “a bullet that can go round trees.” The tracker dogs are also used to help local communities in recovering lost or stolen items and firearms. Jamie outlined the importance of effective dog and handler training, which takes place six days a week. The canine dog units have been a highly valuable tool within their rhino conservation management strategies.


Save the Rhino’s 2015 ‘Rhino Dog Squad’ appeal and how zoos can get involved

Katherine Ellis – Communications Manager of Save the Rhino International

Katherine shared information about Save the Rhino’s upcoming appeal to support the APLRS’s canine units by raising awareness and fundraising for vital equipment for the dogs, such as leads, food and kennels, veterinary care and training. Katherine outlined fun activities for zoo’s staff and visitors, such as using a rhino costume, raffles, craft workshops, donation bucket collections and cake sales and the materials that Save the Rhino can make available for those individuals and zoos wishing to support the appeal.


Benefits for zoos in supporting conservation efforts

Friederike von Howald – Chair of EAZA Rhino Taxon Advisory Group, Curator of Basel Zoo and International Stud Book Keeper for Indian Rhinos

Friederike shared Baba Dioum’s powerful quote about the importance of education: “In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.” Friederike gave a range of ways in which zoos and zoo keepers can support rhino conservation efforts, including holding fundraising events, selling merchandise, or taking part in fundraising challenge events. She gave further examples of ways zoos are involved in educational activities such as collecting visitor’s finger nails and making rhino horn hats from hair to raise awareness that rhino horn is made from keratin (the same material found in human hair and nails). Friederike highlighted the importance of close relationships between zoos and conservation NGOs to develop understanding of the needs in rhino conservation.


Rhino horn: messaging to change consumer behaviour

Richard Thomas – Global Communications Co-ordinator of TRAFFIC

TRAFFIC examines the legal and illegal trade of wildlife products and Richard spoke of research by WWF South Africa and TRAFFIC into use of rhino horn in Vietnam. Vietnam’s growing economy has led to increased spending power for luxury items and higher demand for rhino horn. There has also been increased poaching of the Asian rhino species. Richard compared Vietnam’s demand for rhino horn to historical examples of Japan and Taiwan. The demand was reduced in these countries for a number of reasons including the threat of the Pelly Amendment sanctioning. Richard highlighted the importance of working with the judiciary and having a strong understanding of the rhino horn market and consumers. Under CITES’ directions, countries using rhino horn should develop behaviour change strategies to reduce the demand.

Susie Offord – Deputy Director of Save the Rhino International

Susie explored behaviour change strategies and the importance of understanding why individuals consumer rhino horn and how they perceive communications. The research by TRAFFIC identified two key rhino horn consumer groups, plus a group of potential consumers currently limited by access and income. The Chi Behaviour Change Campaign has been developed by TRAFFIC and PSI (a social marketing organisation), with support from the Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund and SRI. The campaign addresses the use of rhino horn to demonstrate success by highlight that these qualities of strength and success come from within. They are focusing on working with the government and health practitioners, engaging with the business community, having messaging in key areas (such as where the consumer groups live, at business forum events, golf events and airlines’ executive lounges), and encouraging ambassadors to work within companies to address the issue as part of their CSR responsibilities.


The mystery of the antique sculpture

Marc Granville – Senior Investigation Officer at National Crime Agency, Manchester Airport

Marc discussed the role of the police, border control and customers play in preventing illegal wildlife trade and gave the example of an antique that was seized at Manchester airport in 2009. Inside the bronze antique two rhino horns were found. Segments of the horn were sent to Edinburgh for testing and found that they came from a rhino in the UK. Through police investigations, they were able to link the horns to a recently deceased rhino, Simba, at Colchester Zoo. Simba’s body had been sent to an abattoir disposal; the horns had then “leaked” to the dealer. The case went to court and the antique dealer received 12 months’ imprisonment.


Rhino poaching – scene-of-the-crime investigations and DNA collection techniques

 Rod Potter – Wildlife Investigator at Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, South Africa

Rod discussed the importance of working with police and national prosecutions. Rod shared the importance of carefully inspecting the crime scene of a poached rhino, examining DNA, finger prints, remnants of weapons and other items left by the poachers to find sufficient evidence to link arrested people to the crime, before the scene / evidence is altered by weather conditions. Rod discussed the different weapons used at crime scenes and matching up recovered weapons to firearm registers, as well as the possibility of linking axes to cut marks at the crime scene.


EU institutions and wildlife crime: outline of (re)actions

 Tomasz Rusek - Parliamentary Adviser at European Parliament

Tomasz discussed the role of the EU in addressing the illegal wildlife trade. The illegal wildlife crime is now recognised at the same scale as weapons and drugs, which informs increased prison sentencing. The EU is working across Africa at key landscape level (rather than specific protected areas) and is examining areas with human wildlife conflict or where communities are reliant on wildlife. A range of NGOs, such as TRAFFIC and European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), are also working and campaigning at an international level.