Protecting rhinos in the wild can be very challenging and uncertain. Hence, viable populations in captivity are also important as ultimate reservoirs of genetic and demographic material for reinforcement or re-establishment of wild populations as need and opportunity occur. When populations get so low like the Sumatran rhino it is important to have an insurance population in captivity and carry out breeding programmes.
Achieving viable captive populations of rhinos for their various conservation roles requires sophisticated scientific management as well as strategic coordination of the space and resource. Such management and coordination are provided by the Regional Captive Propagation Programs (RCPs) like the European Endangered Species Programme and Species Survival Plan. For long-term viability, captive (just like wild) populations must attain certain minimum viable population (MVP) sizes to avoid demographic and genetic problems. Hence, it is crucial for RCPs to coordinate and interact through exchange of animals (or germplasm) and expertise, so the rhinos in zoos worldwide can be managed as a metapopulation.
Zoos are a major and growing source of financial support for in situ conservation of rhinos. Captive rhinos can also serve as ambassadors to the general public to raise awareness of the problems their cousins face in the wild.
|Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary breeding programme||Mkomazi Rhino Sanctuary|