In the 1980s, the rhino poaching crisis in Africa intensified to the point where rhinos were extirpated from Zambia and Botswana. Today black rhinos number nearly 5,000 animals, with the largest populations in South Africa, Namibia, Kenya and Zimbabwe. Over the past few years, rhinos have been particularly hard-hit by well-organized gangs of poachers across southern Africa. Throughout the region, emphasis is being placed on creating more, large, viable populations of black rhino as a survival measure. In Botswana, the goal is to re-establish breeding herds of black rhinos in the wild with the aim of making Botswana a significant range state for the species. With the goal of re-establishing a permanent and eventually self-sustaining black rhino population, the International Rhino Foundation (IRF), in partnership with others, is working to translocate 10 to 20 southern black rhino from South Africa to Moremi Game Reserve in Botswana. The rhinos will be actively monitored using both radio-telemetry (through horn transmitters) on the ground and helicopter tracking and protected from poaching. Local communities will derive economic benefits from the program both through employment as rhino monitors and scouts and through established ecotourism operators.
The Zoo & Zoo Society also support rhino conservation through the American Association of Zookeepers’ Bowling for Rhinos program and through the African Wildlife Conservation Fund. We help address the rhino horn trade in Vietnam through support of Education for Nature – Vietnam.