When we think of Wildlife, one of the first animals that pops in our heads is the Rhino. They are the third heaviest land animal in the world. We have all seen one, maybe at a zoo or on tv or even on safari. With 5 different species, they are a beautiful and powerful animals. Yet with all that power they are actually calm,although will charge if they feel threatened. Mostly they spend their time grazing in open fields. Out of the 5 rhino species (white rhino, black rhino, greater one horned rhino, Sumatran rhino, and Javan rhino) all are critically endangered with one species being virtually extinct. The Northern White Rhino has dwindled down to just two females. And that's the reality -- due to poaching, we are losing a beautiful creature that has been here for millions of years and that is now being wiped from this earth by humans. All because there is a demand for their horns. But we won't give up without a fight! Across the globe organizations are working day and night to help save these wondrous animals and insuring a future for them on this earth. One of those organizations we are glad to call our partners: International Rhino Foundation or rhinos.org, which is their website. We spoke with a member of the International Rhino Foundation so that all of you their supporters, could get to know the organization you help support! Enjoy:
Wakened: Tell us a little bit about the history of IRF and how it came to be?
IRF: More than 30 years ago, intense, organized poaching was decimating Zimbabwe’s black rhino population at an alarming rate. In response, a group of concerned individuals and institutions founded the International Black Rhino Foundation in 1989. In part because of the Foundation’s support, poaching was virtually eliminated and Zimbabwe’s black rhino population began to stabilize and eventually increase.
In 1993, recognizing that all five rhino species were facing an escalating crisis, the International Black Rhino Foundation expanded its mission and became the International Rhino Foundation (IRF).
All five living rhino species (Black, White, Greater One-Horned, Sumatran, and Javan) are in terrible peril – from poaching, forest loss, and habitat conversion, from human settlements encroaching on their habitats in Africa, Indonesia, and India, and from the effects of living in small, isolated populations that can’t get together to breed. IRF protects particularly threatened rhino populations and their habitats in the wild, while also supporting management and applied research that can help improve the chances for rhinos’ long-term survival.
IRF’s current major programs include: 1) Indonesia: Rhino Protection Units, the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary, and the Javan Rhino Study and Conservation Area; 2) India: Indian Rhino Vision 2020; 3) Zimbabwe: Lowveld Rhino Conservation Program; and 4) Southern Africa: Operation Stop Poaching Now. IRF also supports scientific research, providing grants for work that is directly applicable to management, propagation, and conservation of rhino species in nature and in breeding centers.
Wakened: What is your mission or goal?
IRF: The International Rhino Foundation 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 that many other species that share their habitat also survive, including people.
Wakened: Give a couple of examples of some projects IRF is currently working on?
IRF: Our work expands from South Africa, Zimbabwe, India, and Indonesia. Our projects range from IRF’s OPERATION: Stop Poaching Now campaign in South Africa which aims to raise awareness and funding for 10 Ways to Fight Rhino Poaching:
Boots on the Ground
Early Warning and Community Involvement
Investigation and Forensic Techniques
Law Enforcement Crackdown
Translocating Rhinos to Safety
Intensive Monitoring and Tracking
In Zimbabwe The Lowveld Rhino Trust (LRT), the International Rhino Foundation’s partner organization in Zimbabwe, implements a comprehensive conservation program that support anti-poaching efforts, tracks and monitors rhinos, treats injured rhinos, rehabilitates and returns injured young rhinos to the wild, translocates rhinos from high-risk areas to safer locations, and works with local communities to build support for rhino conservation.
In India IRF has partnered with the Assam Forest Department, the Bodoland Territorial Council, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to address the threats facing Indian rhinos. We are moving rhinos from overcrowded areas, like Kaziranga National Park and Pabitora Wildlife Sanctuary, to other protected areas where they can breed. Along with continuing strict protection and community engagement, spreading Indian rhinos out among more protected areas will create a larger, safer and more stable population.
In Indonesia With our on-the-ground partner, the Rhino Foundation of Indonesia (Yayasan Badak Indonesia or YABI), IRF operates a multi-faceted Sumatran Rhino Conservation Program that includes protection of Sumatran rhinos and their habitat through our Rhino Protection Units, research on and propagation of the species at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary.
IRF and our partner, the Rhino Foundation of Indonesia (YABI), operate five Rhino Protection Units (RPUs) in Ujung Kulon National Park. Rhino Protection Units (RPUs) are highly-trained, four-person anti-poaching teams that intensively patrol key areas within Indonesia’s national parks. They monitor threatened wildlife, deactivate traps and snares, identify and apprehend illegal intruders, including poachers, and investigate crime scenes, thus preventing or reducing the loss of wildlife. The goal of the RPU program is to prevent the extinction of Javan rhinos and other threatened species and to protect critical habitats in Java through proactive prevention of poaching and habitat destruction.
Although the RPUs in Ujung Kulon have been very successful, protection in itself isn’t going to be enough to save the species from extinction. Over the long-term, the population needs to be spread out, with a second viable population established elsewhere in Indonesia. Our first step towards accomplishing this goal is to increase the habitat available in eastern Ujung Kulon so the existing population can expand and grow
Wakened: What is IRF’s future outlook for Rhinos worldwide and what still needs to be done?
IRF: All five rhino species are threatened with extinction. Populations of two species – greater one-horned and white – were reduced to fewer than 100 animals in the early 20th Century, but because of concerted efforts by governments and dedicated conservationists, have rebounded into the thousands or tens of thousands since that time. Africa’s black rhino numbered around 65,000 in 1973, and were reduced to only a few thousand animals by the early 1990s, but strategic interventions have helped to double its population since then. We have no reliable historical population estimates for the Sumatran and Javan rhinos, but each is now believed to number one hundred individuals or less, and both are threatened with imminent extinction. Despite the current poaching crisis, overall rhino numbers continue to slowly increase.
Wakened: What can we do as individuals to make a difference and help Rhinos worldwide?
IRF: The biggest thing people can do is tell other about rhinos and the challenges they face and support conservation through donations.
International Rhino Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) public charity, so the work they do is non profit. We all individually have the opportunity to improve the future for Rhinos! Though man has left a negative impact on Rhinos, we have the power to leave a positive one. To be a better example and better stewards of these majestic creatures. We are grateful for organizations like the International Rhino Foundation for making it easy for us to help! To learn more about IRF click HERE!
You can support them by your donations directly here
. Or you can shop the following items below, which donate 10% from each sale to IRF. Every little bit counts for the future of the worlds rhinos!
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