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EDGE Extinction or Survival

The future of the rhino


See how we are

working towards


in Viet N  am & China AND we report on

illegal horn trade










Bonnie Davies

London Marathon



19 21 Rhino horn








3 Intro  A record 2018! 4 Rhino update  The state of the rhino 6 Supporters  Meet the Instagram rhinosavers 7 Kenya  Walking in the daylight 8 Kenya  Bringing the world to Borana and boosting ranger morale 10 ForRangers  An incredibe adventure: the ForRangers Ultra 12 Kenya  Using equipment effectively to combat poaching 13 Kenya  Meet the rhinos needing rangers’ helping hands 14 Tanzania  Inspiring communities for 10 years via Rafiki wa Faru 15 Events  Miles, smiles, sweat & support 16 Zambia  Rhino rangers on tour in London 18 Supporters  Bonnie Davies will run for rhinos! 19 Namibia  Community conservation in the Kunene region 20 Namibia  Namibia’s newest recruits help to tackle wildlife crime 21 News  Rhino horn antiques 22 Zimbabwe  All in a day’s work at the Lowveld Rhino Trust 23 Kenya  The perfect dog 24 South Africa  Appreciating the importance of ranger morale 25 South Africa  Innocence to experience: the changing role of a ranger 26 Appeal  On the Edge: extinction or survival 28 Rhino goodies  Take part, buy or give 29 Africa  The rhino challenge: a continental perspective 30 Thorny Issues  After Sudan: the future of rhino conservation 32 Zoos  Africa Alive! The Zoological Society of East Anglia 33 Supporters  James Last: a rhino in Borlänge, Sweden 34 Indonesia  Protecting what you cannot see 36 Viet Nam  How we’re working towards zero demand for rhino horn 37 Sumatra  It’s time to have the conversation: Sumatran rhino sex 38 Interview  Rhino vet Dr Agvinta: Looking after the world’s most endangered land mammal


Protecting what you




Kunene Region




Community conservation in the

DOG 23













Meet the Instagram


A record 2018!


Bringing the world to

What a year. 2018 has certainly been a big year

Save the Rhino International is a UK-registered charity which raises funds and awareness for the world’s five rhino species. We work with global project partners to support 17 long-term rhino conservation programmes in Africa and Asia

for all of us at Save the Rhino.


Cathy Dean | Chief Executive Officer hanks to you — our supporters — I’m pleased to say that we raised an incredible £2.7m in the financial year 2017—18, an amount that enables us to award even more to the programmes we support that look after rhinos in Africa and Asia.

We also had the hottest London Marathon on record — though if we had taken the temperature inside a rhino costume I am sure it would have been even hotter — and had a record amount fundraised by all the marathoners too (read more about the London Marathon on pages 15—17). Keeping to the endurance theme, we also kicked off our new annual event, the ForRangers UItra, which saw 46 runners, including me, making our way across 213km of Kenyan wilderness during the course of five days (see more on the Ultra on pages 10—11). But we do all this for one reason: to save rhinos. During the last 12 months, we have celebrated zero rhino poaching in our priority field programmes in Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia, though poaching continues to be a major worry in other areas. With the generous donations from supporters, we’ve been able to help pay for the expansion of the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary, a special place that really is giving hope for this species (read about the efforts involved on pages 37—39). And importantly, overall poaching numbers for all rhinos are down in 2017 compared to 2016 (pages 4— 5).




There certainly have been some lows, too. Of the rangers that work to protect and monitor rhinos and all wildlife in Africa and Asia 107 have died in the line of duty according to a report published by the WWF and The Thin Green Line this autumn. This is a horrid reminder of just how tough and dangerous the job is and it is a figure we want to reduce, hence our assistance for rangers and their

work, not least through the ForRangers initiative by Sam Taylor and Pete Newland, who we are proud to support. There have also been a number of rhino tragedies, with 11 rhinos dying after a botched translocation in Kenya, and the death of the last male Northern white rhino, Sudan, in March. But these situations motivate us all to do more for rhinos and rangers. Our aim is to see all five rhino species thriving in the wild for future generations. Rhinos are iconic. It is our job to ensure we do everything possible to save them. They might be On the Edge, but we hope to tip them closer to survival each day. After 17 years in this role, I am still amazed and grateful for all the support we receive from our members, partners and the whole Save the Rhino family. As always, we have a jam-packed calendar of events in 2019, so if you’re up for a challenge, love baking or simply want to come and volunteer, do get in touch. We always love hearing from you. Thank you for your ongoing commitment to rhinos. They don’t know the difficult, and often ridiculous, lengths we go to in their honour, but I’m sure they’d say thank you if they did!

Upcoming events for your diary London Big Half London Marathon CITES Conference of the Parties 18 Crash: The Party World Ranger Day RideLondon ForRangers Ultra World Rhino Day 

Sunday 10 March 2019 Sunday 28 April 2019 Thursday 23 May — Monday 3 June 2019 Saturday 6 July 2019 Wednesday 31 July 2019 Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 August 2019 Wednesday 18 — Sunday 22 September 2019 Sunday 22 September 2019

For more information about any of these events, please visit or email or call +44 (0)20 7357 7474

Rhino update

State of the


Rhinos & the IUCN Red List Black rhino Diceros bicornis


Cathy Dean | CEO

In-situ population*  5,040 — 5,458

This year brought with it some

IUCN RED LIST CLASSIFICATION  Critically Endangered  Considered to be facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild

good news: rhino poaching in Africa decreased — slightly —  during 2017. However, more than 1,000 rhinos were killed for their

Northern white rhino Ceratotherium simum cottoni


devastating situations. Thankfully for now, the global rhino

Population  2 (Kenya, introduced)

population is still increasing and holding steady, but only just. It is

IUCN RED LIST CLASSIFICATION  Critically Endangered  Considered to be facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild

the dedicated work of rangers and conservation managers across


In-situ population*  19,666 — 21,085 IUCN RED LIST CLASSIFICATION  Near Threatened  Is close to qualifying for or is likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future

Javan rhino Rhinoceros sondaicus


Africa and Asia that we have to thank for this. They continue to do the best they can to keep rhino populations alive, saving these iconic animals for years to come.

How to stop poaching? Follow the value! When rhinos are poached, criminals make money. Of course, it isn’t just rhinos: the global trade in illegal wildlife products is thought to

In-situ population*  67

be worth US $17 billion and is

IUCN RED LIST CLASSIFICATION  Critically Endangered  Considered to be facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild

among the five most lucrative

Greater one-horned rhino Rhinoceros unicornis


In-situ population*  3,500+ IUCN RED LIST CLASSIFICATION  Vulnerable  Considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild

Sumatran rhino Dicerorhinus sumatrensis


In-situ population  ~ 80 IUCN RED LIST CLASSIFICATION  Critically Endangered  Considered to be facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild

In the countries in which they naturally occur



Southern white rhino Ceratotherium simum simum


horn and the past 12 months have brought with them some

global crimes. Those involved with poaching are connected to international criminal syndicates, meaning that money or other assets can pass through many countries. Proceeds from rhino horn trafficking may be laundered through property and other transactions, involving multiple jurisdictions, making it very difficult to trace the origins. In October this year, in an initiative led by the Duke of Cambridge’s United for Wildlife, leaders in the financial sector joined together to sign the Mansion House Declaration, which identifies clear, tangible actions that can be taken to detect and stop illegal wildlife trade by improving how suspicious money flows are tracked, with the same techniques as those used for investigating money laundering.

Investors, banks and wildlife experts will now work more closely together to deliver real impact, increasing awareness of the illegal wildlife trade within the financial sector, identifying unusual activity earlier and providing more intelligence information to specialist law enforcement agencies, while also supporting this joint work and other similar mechanisms in different sectors. This declaration could not come soon enough. Increasing collaboration between businesses, legal agencies and conservation organisations will further disrupt criminal networks, arresting and prosecuting those at the top of the syndicates. Asset forfeiture and frozen bank accounts will surely mean that the financial risks of facilitating the illegal wildlife outweigh the rewards.

Poaching in numbers 2006–17 The current crisis took off — in terms of the impact of cases on national rhino populations — in Zimbabwe in 2008. Before this, in the early 2000s, poaching numbers across Africa had been at record lows. The table below shows the breakdown of the number of rhinos killed per country per year.

■ Once the ‘soft targets’ in Zimbabwe were

exhausted, poaching gangs turned their attention to neighbouring countries. South Africa, which is home to around 80% of Africa’s rhinos, was hit hard, with huge increases from 2009 to 2014. South Africa is still the country experiencing the highest number of rhino poaching incidents today — 1,028 in 2017. Most poaching incidents in South Africa are taking place

in Kruger National Park, but an increasing proportion of incidents are occurring in other major parks and reserves, such as Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park in the KwaZuluNatal region. ■ On the plus side, poaching has decreased in

Kenya and South Africa this year, the two countries that hold most rhinos. However, a total of 36 losses were seen in Zimbabwe,

as compared to 30 in 2016. In Tanzania, after 2016 saw zero poaching, two rhinos were killed in 2017. Reports of incidents in Botswana in the first eight months of 2018 suggest that this could be the next target for the gangs. We know the figures won’t disappear overnight, and unfortunately the syndicates’ methods and networks also continually evolve. That’s why it is so important we keep going. The fall in overall poaching numbers is a positive step, but we have a long way to go before rhinos are safe and thriving. ■ In Asia, the three species of rhino all exist

in much smaller numbers than in Africa. Poaching continues to be a threat, but populations are also heavily affected by habitat losses. As far as we understand, no poaching incidents of Javan or Sumatran rhinos have taken place in recent years, but, with fewer than 100 of each species, they are at a tipping point. The crucial objectives for these two species are to improve breeding success, to prevent habitat loss through deforestation, to consolidate Sumatran stragglers and to establish a second population of Javan rhinos.


■ For Greater one-horned rhinos, the story is

a little different. There have been several dozen poaching incidents during the last decade and poachers in Assam are using more sophisticated weapons. Given the relative proximity of these areas to key rhino-horn markets (China and Viet Nam), community engagement is a critical path to success for the Greater one-horned rhino. This communication between anti-poaching teams and villages is also vital to track down poachers and convict those found guilty. Without successfully prosecuting perpetrators, the incentive to poach will remain high.

Table 1 | Number of rhinos killed 2006—17 (Per country, per year) Country


























DR Congo




























































226 7,179

South Africa

Total 4 4













































































































561 8,355

Estimates. **All rhinos presumed nationally extinct in DRC post-2009 | Credit: IUCN SSC African Rhino Specialist Group



Supporters meet_the_rhinosavers

Meet_the_RhinoSavers A huge thank you to each and every one of our young rhino supporters who are dedicated to helping raise funds and awareness across the world for rhino conservation. Here are some recent highlights that impressed and inspired all of us at Rhino HQ.



of presents ar, instead of lots felix_b ::: This ye d his ke as ay party, Felix for his fifth birthd save the lp he to x bo a in ney friends to put mo . 40 £2 d an amazing rhinos. Felix raise   #dinos ino #birthday #rh ay u had a fab birthd johnBoy hope yo ke ca in tra s ou a gorge allRhinos that’s s s are fan addy_R We rhino




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206 likes sticky_fingers_baking ::: Siblings Ilyan, Isabella and Kyal sold homemade cupcakes, granola bars, pretzel bark, lemonade and hot chocolate at a business fair in Nairobi, Kenya. They asked customers to donate their change to Save the Rhino, raising £250.

286 likes treehouse_fundra iser ::: Save the Rh ino members Jake, and Maisy organised Fin a fundraising open day for friends and family by the treeho use in their garden. On a warm summe day, they served cak r’s es, ice cream and held a raffle, raising £220 for rhino con servation. more deedee33 Hang on in there! jane_mikey Save me some ice cream SEP TEM BER 10

Add a comment.. .

#cake #lemonade #conservation allRhinos super bakers kton9 well impressed ALY POPAT

MAY 28

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Add a comment.. .




191 likes crash_kids ::: South African group ‘Crash Kids’ hosted a fun draising ‘Crash So cial’ for their local schools. The event, which rais ed £315, featured a DJ , blue lemonade and a “thought wall” where everyone could wri te a message about rhin o conservation. mrsRhino super ser ious lemonade crashOut wow wa s it legal? mysterons yeah du de: save me some.

191 likes Isaac_bik e ::: Isaac donates £ money to 3 a month Save the from his p Rhino. He ocket complete wanted to d a 5-mile do more so sponsore Isaac was he d bike ride, awarded raising £2 a special 00. his local b b ad g e for his ch eaver sco arity work uts. more by #cycling #scouts #conserv ation keeling3 10 keep o n cycling is sac sonny23 love your pics — ke ep postin JU NE 2 g Add a co mment...



One might call them ‘day-walkers’: mythical two-horned creatures that choose to leave the darkness of their thicket home and venture into the sunlight.

in the daylight

Jeremy Goss | Conservation Scientist, Big Life Foundation It’s a rare behaviour for the rhino that live in the Chyulu Hills of southern Kenya. The population was once thought extinct, and rediscovered with much excitement in the 1990s. Those few black rhino that had survived the poaching onslaught were the ones that had hidden in the deepest, darkest, most impenetrable bush. Invisible meant alive. Since then, rangers from Big Life Foundation have worked closely with their counterparts from the Kenya Wildlife Service to



Left: Rhino Lari caught on a camera trap

It is hard to declare one rhino more valuable than another, but this is an original wild population, never touched by human management, and that does indeed make them special. One baby Chyulu rhino really is priceless. This new baby isn’t the only sign that things are changing for the better. Slowly, we’re seeing the rhinos venture out of the thickets. This began during the dark and is now increasingly happening in the daylight. In fact, a group of rangers was recently reminded that being able to see a rhino doesn’t necessarily make it any less dangerous, after a rhino named Cathy (in honour of Save the Rhino’s Cathy Dean) and her calf were sighted one morning.


Above: More than 50 rangers monitor and protect the Chyulu black rhino

to poaching is always good news, but there was even more reason to celebrate earlier this year, when some tiny tracks announced the exciting arrival of a new addition.

protect these animals in the Chyulu Hills National Park and on the Maasai community lands that border it. The 50 rangers, spread across nine units, spend their days fighting through dense thorn thicket and traversing ancient lava fields that eat patrol boots for breakfast. All in pursuit of the protection of an animal that they hardly see.

The team suddenly found themselves stuck between mother and calf with an unpredictable wind. Crouching in the grass was a temporary reprieve but Cathy eventually found them. She charged, thankfully changing course at the last minute, leaving only a story and a few sweaty palms in her wake. But it’s a story with a happy ending, and hopefully one that demonstrates that this population is slowly starting to feel safe enough to go day-walking.

Without much visual contact, monitoring rhinos is achieved through measuring the spoor size (foot tracks) and via camera traps. The population had remained stable at seven individuals for the last few years. No losses



Bringing the world to Borana and boosting ranger morale Ensuring there are enough funds to get the right equipment for our rangers is always of critical importance, so that we can provide the jackets, tents, socks and meals that are all needed for one day in this job. But almost as significant is the interaction that rangers have with visitors to Borana: the tourists, the donors. Without visitors, we wouldn’t be able to pay for those items that keep ranger morale high, but we also wouldn’t be able to show our rangers just what their day job is achieving for the world. Sam Taylor | Wildlife Manager, Borana Conservancy

Above: Rangers at the camp in Borana Left: Rangers patrol everyday to monitor rhinos and keep them protected


ost of Borana’s rangers are employed locally, within 5 km of our boundaries. Many didn’t receive much conventional schooling and most have travelled no further than Nanyuki, our nearest town, just 40 km away. Their worldview is therefore focused on our region in Kenya.

Initially, they protect wildlife and wilderness because they are paid to do so. It is a noble cause because they are looking after their ancestral lands, their heritage. However, do they recognise the scale of concern and support that others around the globe have for their work? They know that people travel long distances to come and see the wildlife, and they know too that organisations such as Borana have forsaken cattle ranching (something I would assume is baffling to the Maasai, who hold livestock in such esteem) to focus on protecting rhino. From a short conversation with visitors, suddenly our rangers understand that they are part of a planet whose wilderness is vanishing, they are not just part of rhino protection efforts in Laikipia. Suddenly they are aware of a world that cares about what they do and what they are achieving. Suddenly they understand the importance of their role, on a global stage, and with that comes pride in and ownership of their task. We’re one of a very select few rhino conservancies that tries to cover all of its operating costs by its own commerce and so we want tourists to see exactly what their stay is contributing towards. We encourage lots of communication between guests and rangers, offering insights into what are often very different worlds. The rangers see the importance of their everyday work to people who live many thousands of miles away.

A while ago we had the opportunity to show all the rangers a film called Warlords of Ivory, brought by a guest. It was a fascinating documentary that followed tracked elephant tusks into central Africa




and into the hands of people that sold them for firearms to arm small children. The men were outraged. As they all have close family cultures, they couldn’t fathom the evil that makes men arm children to kill. Suddenly they saw their position in a different light. Their protection of rhino and elephant served a higher purpose, and went beyond “protecting their heritage”. Their part in protecting wildlife (particularly rhino) was also stemming the tide in human trafficking, the drugs trade, and local crime. It was a breakthrough moment. There was renewed pride in their work. Every interaction increases morale in our team. It makes rangers prouder, more committed and contributes every bit as much as the kind funds received to buy boots and warm socks. This year, we hosted part of Save the Rhino’s and Beyond the Ultimate’s inaugural ForRangers Ultra marathon. The rangers were busy protecting runners from errant rhino and wandering herds of elephant. They loved it. They saw these mad visitors suffering, sweating, with blisters and heat stroke, charging across the wilderness to raise funds for rhinos and rangers. How gratifying it must be for the rangers who operate in difficult conditions to see all these people enduring so much, and all for them.

Above: Being a ranger isn’t an easy job, building morale is crucial Left: Each ranger takes pride in their work, protecting wildlife and making a difference


ForRangers An incredible adventure

The ForRangers Ultra

In the heartlands of long-distance running and the home of rhinos, we took on an ultramarathon to honour rangers and the rhinos they protect. We partnered with ForRangers and Beyond the Ultimate for this great race, truly a dream team. With around £110,000 raised for ForRangers and Save the Rhino, our runners did amazingly well. David Hill | Events Manager

The vital statistics Stages: 5 Total distance: 213 km ■ Elevation gain: 3,712 m (eg, Weißkugel in Austria, Mount Eisen in California or Mount Zirkel in Colorado) ■ Highest altitude: 2,043 m ■ Lowest altitude: 1,625 m ■ Rhino conservancies: Lewa, Borana, Ol Jogi and Ol Pejeta + Lolldaiga Conservancy ■ Runners: 46 ■ Rhino costume: 1 ■ Countries represented: 12 (GBR / IRL / USA / CAN / RSA / POL / KEN / SWE / DNK / ITA / AUS / NZL) ■ Rangers on guard: 250 ■ Youngest runner: 18 years ■ Oldest runner: 64 years ■ Fastest male: 22:33:42 ■ Fastest female: 28:29:35 ■ Total water consumption: 1,715 litres ■ Total calories consumed: 147,000 kcal ■ Daytime temperature: >30°C ■ Overnight temperature: <5°C ■ Blue Kinesiotape applied: >50 m ■ ■

  It was a pretty epic adventure & journey but I managed to get through to the end  Craig Pullen >>> What makes this race different is the cause…There’s nothing that can come close  


I don’t see it as a race. It’s an adventure, probably the best adventure I’ve ever been on  Simon Small >>> The hardest thing I’ve ever done, and would probably do it again  Adia Josephson >>>


We loved it so much that we’re bringing it back next year. Want to take part? See www.savetherhino. org/get-involved/for-rangers-ultra


  Maritz Theron >>> It’s up there with the best things I’ve ever done in my life. Everything about this race is special… I can’t describe how special this race was  Nick Watson >>>



Using EQUIPMENT effectively

to combat poaching

As conservation entities strive towards the most economically viable model to combat this wave of poaching, it is inevitable that equipment requirements have to become more diverse. The use of different tools in conservation is multi-faceted but, ultimately, they increase efficiency, improve wildlife protection and enhance ranger safety. Security, ecological management, education and communication are a few examples of the dynamic mosaic of considerations that require our attention. Whilst equipment can greatly enhance our ability to proactively and reactively address conservation issues, we ultimately rely on human resources for the provision of services. Equipment, be it technological or physical, acts as a supportive layer to improve safety and efficiency for the men and women who are engaged on the ground.

Modern day conservation has evolved dramatically in the last decade. This is especially so for critically endangered wildlife species, particularly those whose demand value has acutely inflated in recent times. Rhinos are one such species, when the illegal demand price for their horn has escalated by an estimated 3,000% in less than three years. Jamie Gaymer | Wildlife and Security Manager, Ol Jogi Conservancy (picture above)


Similarly, there is no ‘silver bullet’ application of resources that will fix all conservation challenges. The mosaic is as dynamic as it is complex and it continues to evolve at a startling rate. We must critically evaluate all equipment opportunities and learn from the experience of others, whilst also being effective given our unique status as individual conservation entities. Legislation and regional policy also dictates the equipment that can be used in conservation, and this varies in different countries throughout Africa. It is unfortunate, tragic even, that the protection of wildlife has deteriorated into a deadly battle in some instances. Whilst the focus in recent years has been on security in response to the upsurge in poaching, equipment is still used proactively for biological management, awareness, education and healthcare, amongst other uses. Managers should strive to invest in the most efficient combination of equipment and assets that can improve their efficiency by supporting boots on the ground.

It is impossible to list all of the equipment that we require, but for just for our anti-poaching purposes, we tend to need: ■■





■■ ■■

Personnel equipment: uniforms, boots, webbing, day-sacks, sleeping bags Vehicles: 4x4s, motorbikes, quad-bikes Aircraft (pictured below): fixed-wing and helicopter Thermal-imaging equipment and night-vision goggles Weapons (including firearms) and associated equipment (ammunition, scopes etc.) First aid equipment Communication equipment: radios (digital in some cases), mobile phones, satellite phones


Internet and computer networks


Remote motion-sensor cameras



Detection equipment: magnetic, sound triangulation, radar Psycho-physiological detection of deception and multi-layered voice analysis (commonly known as polygraph tests)


Analytical software


Mapping imagery


Fences and associated technologies




Equipment for canine unit support


Wildlife monitoring hardware and associated software


Meet the rhinos needing


With as few as 5,000 black rhinos left in the wild, every single animal is of critical importance for the species to survive. Preserving the population not only means protecting rhinos from poaching, but also looking after each rhino that needs care, whether that’s providing veterinary care for rhinos injured in a poaching attempt, translocating an overly aggressive bull, or helping a rhino attacked by other predators, such as lions or hyenas. Michaela Butorova | Partnerships Manager


Through an initiative called the ‘Emergency Fund for Black Rhino’, we have been supporting those rhinos that need an extra helping hand from rangers in Kenya. The Fund repays 50% of the costs incurred by members of the Association of Private Land Rhino Sanctuaries each time they care for black rhinos needing veterinary attention.

Last year, Meimei started to outgrow her nighttime container. With the help of Save the Rhino’s donors, new bomas were constructed to accommodate Meimei and the other rhinos being hand-reared at Ol Jogi. As Meimei grows bigger and stronger, there is every hope that she will be successfully reintroduced to the wild, where she can live independently and, in due course, have her own calves.

Black rhino calf, Borana Conservancy The tough terrain at Borana Conservancy means that black rhino calves not only face threats from poaching and attacks from predators, but also injuries from falling down steep cliffs.

Meimei, Ol Jogi Conservancy Meimei was born on 14 March 2016. Four days later she was found stumbling around, blind in both eyes. Her mother, Manuela, would have been unable to protect her from predators, but fortunately, the rangers found her. Meimei was brought into a special enclosure, known as a ‘boma’, for treatment, requiring extensive veterinary care, with plenty of milk, antibiotics and supplements to aid her growth and recovery. Thanks to the excellent care from the staff at Ol Jogi, the infection causing blindness subsided within two months of treatment and Meimei fully regained her eyesight after four months. Meimei is the most adorable, affectionate little black rhino, who loves to follow around her keeper; ranger Laivet Lazaikong (shown above). He is a natural for the job and his bond with Meimei is like no other.

On one of their regular foot patrols, scouts found a young calf that had fallen down a steep cliff while browsing with its mother (pictured above). Rangers were able to lift the calf and carry him to a location accessible by helicopter, so that he could be examined by a veterinarian. In this instance, despite every effort being made, the calf sadly died due to a severely fractured spine. Every emergency operation has variables depending on the state of the emergency: the most extreme needing a helicopter and/ or fixed-wing aircraft, a capture truck, medical equipment, vehicles and support staff, including the vets. Not all rhinos can be saved from their injuries. But, with the support of the Emergency Fund, rangers can provide the best chance of survival for all black rhinos in Laikipia’s rhino conservancies that need a helping hand.



Inspiring communities for



afiki wa Faru is really one of the best things we have ever done for the communities and school children in the surrounding villages.

It continues to be a huge success, with the colourful bus trundling into Mkomazi National Park and the Rhino Sanctuary, bringing young students who we teach about wildlife and habitat conservation and above all, about black rhinos.

via Rafiki wa Rafu


It is ... amazingly … the tenth anniversary of Rafiki wa Faru, our wonderful environmental education programme. Over the years, almost 8,000 school children, as well as teachers and village leaders, have come to see endangered species programmes first hand in the field.

Everything is carefully designed to give each learner a truly memorable experience; from entering the Park through the gate at the Tanzanian National Park HQ, to arriving at the Rhino Sanctuary and hopefully seeing a rhino, meeting security guards and rhino trackers, and then walking up the hill to the education centre where they are taught key messages about rhino conservation.

Lucy Fitzjohn | Project Administrator, Mkomazi Rhino Sanctuary


Above: Students play games to learn more about rhino conservation, as well as receiving learning books that they can take home


We often hear that the students make up songs about Mkomazi on their bus journey back home at the end of the day. A beautiful sound that must be! Distinct and poignant memories resound about the plight of the rhino, the threats they face and the huge effort that goes into protecting them.

At Mkomazi, we practise a multi-faceted approach to rhino security, including traditional protection methods such as alarmed fencing and anti-poaching patrols, as well as aerial surveillance, training scouts and a tracker dog unit. But winning the hearts and minds of local communities, teaching them about flagship species such as the black rhino, and inspiring them to take on positive environmental action is just as necessary to ensure that these precious rhinos thrive in the long-term. The students that form part of the Rafiki wa Faru programme are crucial to this endeavour. Rafiki wa Faru translates as ‘Friends of Rhinos’ and we are fortunate to have these school children as friends. We are enormously grateful to Save the Rhino International, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Chester Zoo and Tusk Trust for all they have done to support this programme since it began. With such great partners, we hope we can ensure that this fine programme will flourish long into the future.


Miles, smiles, sweat & support

Running 26.2 miles is something most people would baulk at, particularly if you add 24ºC heat into the mix, as well as competition from Mo Farah (and of course, the optional extra: adding 10kg of weight to your back whilst reducing your visibility to 6ft in front!)

Susie Phillips 2017—18 Michael Hearn Intern Yet, for 63 incredible people, many of whom were new to running, this was the plan for the day on Sunday 22 April 2018, all in the name 10 countries represented of saving the creatures lovingly referred to as 13 rhino costumes ‘chubby unicorns’.

started — and finished

Save the Rhino, as many of you will be aware, has 63 runners been intricately involved in the London Marathon 1,650 miles run for 25 years now. The event has grown to be our £130,000 raised for rhinos largest annual fundraiser, with runners’ sponsorship helping to provide much-needed financial support to more than 20 field programmes and projects across Africa and Asia. But Above: The whole team before the race and receiving much deserved massages after running

Left: Pre-run stretches and smiles for all runners!

this year was special for a number of reasons... Our team boasted nine runners who are all working directly on rhino conservation projects in Africa. Programme leaders Elsabe (Technical Advisor), Callum (Security trainer) and scouts Brighton and Thomas travelled from Gonarezhou National Park in southeast Zimbabwe.

Craig Reid, Park Manager at Liwonde National Park, Malawi, also joined us. Showing these rangers some of London’s highlights was a real treat: the south bank of the River Thames, Stamford Bridge, the Apothecaries Hall, breakfast in the Sky Pod Bar at 20 Fenchurch Street. We formed an incredible partnership with Ultrasports, an elite London sports clinic with loads of experience of working with athletes, though they had never before dealt with the particular challenges faced by sweaty runners encased in foam-rubber rhino costumes! These dedicated physiotherapists provided a warm up for runners at the start line and extremely welcome ice packs and water at mile 21, just on the return from Tower Bridge. We raised a whopping £130,000 for rhinos, the highest-ever total from this incredible event. A huge thank you to all the dedicated runners and their supporters for all the bake sales, car washes and bucket collections. We can’t wait to see what’s in store for our 2019 London Marathon team! Head online to register if you’re interested in taking part.

Long-term friend of Save the Rhino Ed Sayer travelled from North Luangwa National Park in Zambia, accompanied by Benny Van Zyl (Head of Canine Unit) and rangers Paimolo and Cosmas. And finally


Zambia Left to right: Posing for pictures outside Buckingham Palace Race day! Callum Duncan (Gonarezhou) and Benny Van Zyl (North Luangwa) both ran the iconic route in rhino costume A visit to London Bridge underground station and its iconic signage Cosmas, Ed and Paimolo pose with the Zambian flag at the end of the race A change from the usual morning run — the south bank of the Thames Watching Trooping the Colour Paimolo runs through Canary Wharf

This year we had very special guests joining us from field programmes in Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia for the London Marathon. From Zambia’s North Luangwa National Park we were joined by Ed Sayer, North Luangwa Conservation Programme’s project leader, Paimolo Bwalya and Cosmas Ngulube, rhino monitoring team commanders and Benjamin Van Zyl, North Luangwa’s technical advisor for the K9 Detection and Tracking Unit. Thomas was our first rhino ranger runner home, finishing in a very impressive 03:29:56. Our first 2018 rhino costume runner to return was Callum from Gonarezhou, with a time of 05:07:49. Gonarezhou National Park’s team included two talented rangers, Thomas Mbiza and Brighton Jecha, Elsabe van der Westhuizen, Frankfurt Zoological Society’s Technical Adviser, and Callum Duncan, Head of Security for the Gona rezhou Conservation Trust. And from Lilongwe National Park in Malawi, we had Craig Reid. For some it was their first trip to London, so as well as the ‘small feat’ of completing a marathon, we got in some sightseeing.

Susie Phillips | 2017— 18 Michael Hearn Intern




Left to right: Posing on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral After a boat trip on the River Thames, team ZimZam visit the London Eye London Underground’s massive escalators Who could resist a full tour of Stamford Bridge, home of Chelsea football club!

Together, Team ZimZam raised more than £30,000, going towards specific projects in Gonarezhou and North Luangwa, including purchasing more ranger equipment for security, cameras for rhino monitoring and better infrastructure to help rangers get around the Parks. 17


Will run for rhinos!

Living in the Australian state of Tasmania, home of Tasmanian Devils, rain forests and pristine beaches, Bonnie Davies works as a nurse at the state’s largest trauma hospital. She’s run many marathons for rhinos and continues to support them every step of the way. We asked her about her love of rhinos and running… How did you get into marathon running?

I was singing out loud for the final five kilometres after hearing animal noises & seeing paw prints

Training here in Tasmania is a wonderful adventure, no matter what the season. After making my debut at the London Marathon in 2013, I have been running for my beloved rhinos ever since. My journey has taken me to 13 marathons and counting — representing rhinos at events locally, nationally and internationally.

For each marathon I complete, I donate $100 to Save the Rhino International to help spread awareness of rhino conservation.


Your most memorable moments For my first trail marathon, I competed in the Big Five Marathon in a South African game reserve


Being told that “everything that runs in Africa is food” did not escape my mind. I was absolutely thrilled not only to run past rhinos, but also to finish second for women and sixth overall — such a significant experience for me emotionally, and one that will always remain incredibly special to me. Despite wishing I was anywhere else at the time, qualifying for Boston in 2018 was a definite highlight. Yes, I hated every goddamn minute! It was the hardest thing I have ever done. In freezing temperatures, driving rain, thunder, lightning and a 30 mph headwind, my quads turned to tree trunks — I will never complain about Tasmanian winters again! Irrespective of all this, I have no regrets, I qualified, and ran the Boston Marathon. At Wangaratta, a beautiful country marathon in Victoria, Australia, I achieved something I never thought I could ever do by winning the women’s event. I crossed the line with arms aloft showing my custom rhino singlet with pride —  I did it for them!





Why rhinos?


I get asked this a lot. Simply, why not rhinos?! At the beginning of my HONOLULU journey I wanted to run the London Marathon for an animal charity. I was drawn to the plight of rhinos: their deaths are completely pointless. It’s not unusual for me to cry openly when I hear of another fatality. Equally, I become emotional upon hearing of the latest birth. For such a large animal they are an epitome of the perfect mammal. So gentle and loving, with their huffs and puffs of communication, while at the same time they are beautiful mothers who are fiercely protective of their young. I generally don’t do things by halves. The same rhino logo I have on my singlet is tattooed onto my lower leg, further reinforcing my commitment to the cause. In the future I will continue to run for rhinos, at least until my body says no!




T COMMUNITY Intelligence, employment and team sports

he place these rhinos call home is remote and rugged, with few fences, no national park status and no control over who comes or goes.

Given that the area is large (around 25,000 km2) and has no hard borders, it is testament to the team’s dedication that despite ever-present environmental challenges, poaching here has reduced by 80% since its peak in 2013. This has been achieved largely by a 360% increase in patrol effort and a marked rise in the number of trained and well-equipped conservancy-based rhino rangers, with 55 rangers across 13 conservancies. But that’s not all the Trust has done to stop poaching. SRT also recognises the importance of working closely with the communities that share the land with rhinos and other iconic African wildlife.


Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) in Namibia has been working to protect the Critically Endangered desert-adapted black rhino for more than 36 years. This unique, desert-adapted species is found across the Kunene and Erongo Regions in the northwest of the country and is the last truly wild population.

SRT has engaged fully with communities, training and employing local people as informants on any possible poaching activities. In doing so, they have built up a reliable intelligence network that can report wildlife crime and trigger action. Thanks to this voluntary pre-emptive intelligence, six separate poaching attempts were foiled by law enforcement in 2017 and the poachers responsible for killing the last rhino that year were caught red-handed.

Susie Phillips Michael Hearn Intern 2017—18


In addition, SRT has trained over 60 community game guards and 19 rhino rangers across 10 conservancies, increasing the understanding of, and participation in, rhino conservation by the people that live next door to it. The wider community also sees direct benefits through increased tourism. This connection is a steadfast defence

against the growing temptation to join poaching activities, proving the animal is worth just as much (if not more) alive. Income generated from rhino tourism is distributed back to local communities, increasing substantially since 2012. SRT staff also support a black rhino tourism protocol, limiting the human impact on rhinos: it’s vital, in the harsh desert of the Kunene, that a rhino is not scared away from the only water source for miles. Embedding this community-led thinking into schools is another key aspect of SRT’s work. To date, 12 Rhino Clubs run at local schools and 14 Youth Rhino Groups have been created, helping to promote awareness and inspire the next generation of conservationists. With activities including rhino-themed football and netball leagues, SRT has been able to engage with more than 800 unemployed youth (roughly 75—80% of the total estimated local youth population). Creating communities that champion rhino conservation is a crucial step in addressing the poaching crisis and keeping rhino numbers up. This, alongside SRT’s close working relationship with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Namibian Police, Traditional Leaders and other NGOs, has been key to the success in curbing poaching incidents. With SRT continuing to work in this way, the beautiful desert-adapted black rhino will be more protected than ever.


Namibia Namibia’s newest recruits help to


Historically, Namibia’s Ministry for Environment and Tourism has focused on ecological aspects of conservation: building up wildlife populations, monitoring animals’ daily habits and making sure that plants and habitats are thriving. More recently however, emphasis has been directed toward the law-enforcement component of conservation in an effort to protect the country’s natural resources. Piet Beytell | Senior Conservation Scientist / National Rhino Coordinator, Ministry for Environment and Tourism

While you may not think of your pet dog being of help here, one of the most valuable tools we have are anti-poaching canines: after training, our dogs are able to detect, track and apprehend poachers. In early 2017, the Ministry, for the first time, began to explore the potential of dogs through a partnership with Invictus K9, One of the most a company that specialises in establishing supporting law-enforcement canine valuable tools we and units. Invictus K9 has an impeccable track have are dogs: after record, establishing and working alongside dog units in multiple African countries.

training, they are able to detect, track and apprehend poachers

With funds from Save the Rhino and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, we were able to construct kennels. In May this year, we contacted trusted vendors and brought in four dogs from Holland for their superior genetics and development. When they arrived they began six weeks of acclimatisation — the weather is quite different in the two countries! — and pre-training by Invictus K9’s trainers, during which a solid foundation in detection and tracking was laid.

Above: Kennels for the new dogs and recent addition to the team, Nora Below: The K9 team in Namibia have been training dogs to help stop poaching


All four dogs have now been trained to search buildings, vehicles, baggage and open areas for firearms, ammunition and illegal wildlife products such as rhino horn, ivory, pangolin scales and bush meat. When something is found, the dogs indicate the presence of those items passively (e.g., sitting down in front of a suspect item) to ensure that they do not come in contact with any dangerous materials, whilst also preserving forensic evidence. Each dog is also capable of tracking human scent and any associated disturbance from start to finish, which they can do over a variety of different terrains, day or night. A critical part of Invictus K9’s work in establishing the K9 Unit is ensuring that the right handlers are selected.

Of 32 applicants from Namibia’s Defence Force, just five were chosen as handlers after a rigorous selection process. It’s not just playing around with a dog all day: it’s serious and technical work. Having the correct partners, dog and handler, is crucial. The application process tested the handlers’ abilities to problem-solve, multi-task and work as part of a team under both physical and mental stress. Their oral and non-verbal communication skills, natural empathy, integrity, anticipation, long-term commitment to the programme, as well as passion for conservation, were all evaluated. The five successful candidates were introduced and paired with their canine counterparts in July, whereupon they immediately began a further 12 weeks of training. The first part of the course develops rapport between dogs and handlers, as well as basic health, safety and care. Each team continues through the 12 weeks improving their skills and abilities, developing them into a tough line of resistance to wildlife criminals. These dogs are supporting us in the fight against poaching. They are the latest formidable force in stopping poachers and protecting rhinos.



arious ‘tools’ have been utilised to curb the onslaught of species such as rhino, elephant and pangolin that are especially sought after by poaching syndicates due to their black market value.


Sounding the Horn

Our concerns around the UK trade in rhino horn antiques Background In recent years there has been a lot of interest in the UK trade in antique elephant ivory, leading the Government to recognise this trade is detrimental to wild elephant populations and should be banned. A law with some exemptions is now being brought into UK legislation to stop the trade. With similar conservation issues for rhinos, we wanted to find out more about the UK trade in rhino horn antiques and if there was an impact affecting rhinos across Africa and Asia. We carried out research to see if items were in fact true antiques, if the international trade laws were highlighted before sale, and finally, if the UK trade could be laundering modern rhino horn.

Key findings Number of individual items 300 described as ‘definitely’, ‘probably’ or ’possibly’ rhino horn item offered for sale (with 80% described as ‘definitely’) of rhino horn 323 number lots offered of 268 number rhino horn lots sold 12 ofmainrhinocategories horn antiques number of auction houses 51 offering rhino horn antiques in 2017 number of lots whose 58 description included the weight lowest price achieved for a £30 rhino horn auction lot in 2017 highest price achieved for a £65,000 rhino horn auction lot in 2017 sale price achieved for £1,287,855 Total rhino horn auction lots in 2017

Main concerns ■■ No radiocarbon-14 dating was done, to our

knowledge, to verify that items offered for sale were pre-1947 ■■ No DNA testing was apparently carried out ■■ Expertise in identifying suspect items will be

limited if the auction houses only sees one or two rhino horn items each year ■■ In some cases, the working of rhino horn

lots appeared minimal or crude ■■ CITES issues and export regulations were

inconsistently flagged ■■ Four auction houses advertised some lots

in Mandarin; 17 stated the weight of the rhino horn ■■ Proper vetting of rhino horn antiques

is limited ■■ Rhino horn lots being sold at substantially

less than the ‘grind-down’ value ■■ 34 of the 51 auction houses in the Survey

appear not to be members of professional associations that work hard to promote and improve best practice ■■ Formal investigation of suspect items is

hampered by lack of local experience, resources, professional input, technical back-up and time

We noted some unusual, crudely worked items, and necklaces with beads looking similar to those made from modern rhino horn and seized in shipments from South Africa to Hong Kong and China in 2017 Antique items may be ‘upcycled’, with original parts of e.g. wood or buffalo horn replaced with recent, carved rhino horn. Antiques trade sources tell us the number of walking sticks and libation cups on sale has increased since 2010, that some walking stick handles look modern, or fit poorly with the shaft. We identified a number of these in the Survey Taxidermy trophy rhino heads may be fitted with convincing resin replica horns and the unworked but  pre-1947 original horns smuggled out of the UK by unscrupulous sellers or buyers Pre-1947 rhino horn antiques may be used as a cheap source of grounddown rhino horn. Cheap rhino horn items will be worth more by weight as rhino horn powder than as whole antiques

What we did The 12-month Survey followed auction house sales of items described as ‘definitely’, ‘probably’ or ’possibly’ rhino horn via three online platforms, as well as sales by Bonhams, which sold 32 items through its own system. The Survey did not include items sold by antique dealers, antique shops or private sale, nor sales on the wider internet. We documented how lots were advertised, which auction houses were selling them, and the sale outcome.

Our thoughts “It seems possible that the UK antiques trade is being used to launder rhino horn, whether pre-1947 but not worked, or even modern horn. “Identifying bogus, recent or upcycled items requires significant expertise, which varies from auction house to house, and/ or routine pre-sale scientific testing, which does not currently take place. “The Survey has revealed worrying loopholes and trends that we consider render the trade open to exploitation.”

What we’re doing next ■■ Consultation with stakeholders:

auction houses, antique dealers, trade associations, policymakers, legislators, regulators, enforcers and other NGOs ■■ Further research and monitoring:

our Survey has provided evidence-based information about the types of items being sold, the prices they command, and auction-house practice/policy. It also provides a baseline for future monitoring. ■■ Immediate ‘best practice’

improvements: changes within the current system that do not require UK legislation ■■ Strengthening current controls:

these will take longer to develop and implement, and/or require changes in legislative guidance, including the introduction of a ‘Lifetime Passport’ for rhino horn antiques and consideration of a ban (with exemptions) on the sale of rhino horn items

Find out more at


Zimbabwe Left: Rhino and calf hidden in Bubye scrub

Bottom left: Rhino tracks. The primary form of monitoring is spoor tracking to sight rhino and confirm identity

gy Rhino Management Strate for Zimbabwe


Right: The strategy provides a 4 year plan for protecting rhinos and increasing their numbers


at the Lowveld Rhino Trust The Lowveld Rhino Trust (LRT) monitors white and black rhinos in Bubye Valley and Save Valley Conservancies in south-eastern Zimbabwe. We managed to catch LRT’s Rhino Monitoring Coordinator, Natasha Anderson, in between rhino management operations, to ask her to send us a selection of photos taken this year to illustrate the range of the NGO’s work.

Left: LRT runs a rhino conservation awareness programme in more than 150 schools neighbouring the rhino conservancies. This includes rhino conservation materials such as the Rhino Cards, a mobile movie programme and an annual ‘Rhino Prize’ for rhino quiz competitions Right: LRT has just concluded rhino ops in Bubye Valley Conservancy. This image was taken from the helicopter shown below Bottom left: LRT runs annual rhino management operations to maintain 100% individual identification in the populations they monitor. This requires teamwork and skill


Bottom right: Poached rhino. LRT works in partnership with security personnel on antipoaching activities


Right: LRT are trialing Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags as eartags for passive rhino monitoring





Edward Ndiritu | Head of Anti-Poaching, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

Top: Edward at the workshop Centre: The relationships between dogs and handlers are true bonds

ewa’s Dog Unit is a vital section of our Anti-Poaching Team. Since we introduced working dogs to our team over a decade ago, they have been a game-changer in how we operate.

Bottom: Bloodhound breeds are often used in detection work

Since we introduced the dogs, we’ve achieved tremendous successes during follow-ups to poaching attempts and other criminal activities in the surrounding communities. However, there are challenges when we use the dogs in very hot areas, such as in northern Kenya, where we do close to 80% of our deployment. Our current dogs, though excellent trackers, are only able to cover 4—5 km each, and we therefore have to rotate them during follow ups. Ideally, we need dogs that can cover 15 km each. Additionally, our two star trackers, bloodhound brothers Tipper and Tony, will be retiring soon. The trip on working dogs in conservation took place in South Africa. I was eager to gain new knowledge about what dog breed would help us overcome our current challenges, as well as to learn from other people as to what has worked well for them. I visited Kruger National Park, where I saw a breed that would be ideal for us. At Kruger, they use dogs that are 75% Bloodhound and 25% Doberman. These dogs perform well, they are agile and do not get as easily fatigued as bloodhounds do. I got to see the dogs in action, working hard to protect some of Africa’s largest rhino populations. Whilst Kenya and South Africa are vastly different, the challenges we face remain largely the same. I appreciated the techniques that they’ve perfected while facing poaching threats daily. We also exchanged knowledge with other like-minded participants from various African countries such as Namibia, Zambia, Uganda and DRC Congo.


The dogs act as trackers, enabling us to follow the trail of suspects by tracking their unique scent for lengthy distances, a feat that no human can achieve.

After the visit, I was empowered with the new knowledge I acquired. I was also happy to finally get a chance to visit South Africa. It’s always great to learn new things, and also teach others new things. I believe that such collaborations amongst African countries, and sharing of tested practices, is a really great thing. Poachers don’t care if a rhino’s horn is from South Africa or Kenya or Namibia. By working and learning from each other, we can help each other be a step ahead. Joseph Piroris, Head of the Canine Unit, explains: “The Lewa Canine Unit has achieved great impact over the years. The dogs not only support anti-poaching work on the Conservancy, they are also often called upon to support in follow-up to criminal activities in the neighbouring communities. Every year, they have helped our rangers and local law enforcement authorities recover hundreds of stolen livestock, saving the affected farmers from financial ruin. The dogs have also helped track road bandits, robbers, illegal firearm holders and more.



When I received an invitation from Save the Rhino International to participate in a workshop on Conservation Dogs, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. We have been thinking of getting new dogs here at Lewa, and bringing in new breeds that’ll help overcome the challenges we’re currently facing.

“At the moment, the unit consists of two bloodhounds, two Belgian Malinois and their handlers. We take good care of them, and the handlers are people who love dogs. We feed them well, ensure that they live in clean kennels, and that they are taken out for walks and training daily. Our vet constantly checks on them to make sure they are healthy.”


South Africa

Appreciating the importance of

RANGER MORALE It’s Christmas Day 2014

1.30pm, 43°C with the humidity way above 80%. It’s a nice warm day in uMkhuze Game Reserve. Where were you that day? Eduard Goosen | Conservation Manager, uMkhuze Game Reserve


ield Rangers Zulu and Mageba* are not so lucky as to be able to spend time at home this Christmas. Instead, they are out on patrol in rather uncomfortable, yet very common conditions doing their duty to conserve our heritage…blah blah blah...just another day on patrol… To cut a very long story short, they run into armed rhino poachers, get shot at whilst trying to effect an arrest, which leads to the uMkhuze Anti-Poaching Unit following up in hot pursuit of the four armed poachers.

Above: Rangers wear specialist kit for patrols, keeping them safe and comfortable Centre: The radio system used by rangers to share monitoring and patrol updates Left: The shelter and benches at one of the camps on patrol


In the end, one suspect is fatally wounded in self-defence by the field rangers following up. Later the same afternoon, after all the trauma, these

field rangers are arrested and spend the next three nights in custody for murder, with the resulting stresses of litigation continuing for almost three years. Never mind maintaining morale, how do you build it? How do you motivate people working where the money is not that good and corruption is a real daily threat: syndicates knocking on doors daily with the promise of some real incentives? Sure the theory is there, but the divide between discourse and reality is real where the boots meets the trail. Let’s face it, conservation is not a major government priority in Africa and funding is scarce. So we stick to the


basics. Trying to make sure field rangers are equipped with the bare necessities to do their job. In many instances, this translates to simple items such as decent boots and some uniform. Go the next step and provide the guys with maintained accommodation and some basic amenities, and the results are amazing. Thanks to the support of Save the Rhino’s donors, and other kind supporters, we’ve come a long way. The appreciation from the field rangers is a humbling experience. The difference in morale is profound and very tangible in their gratitude. This is instantly reflected in the performance and commitment of the teams on the ground. Whereas before, threadbare uniform was a significant barrier to effective patrols during long cold nights, decent uniform and the knowledge of a hot shower upon return to camp really does, as you can imagine, impact our work. It is the small things we tend to take for granted that have a significant impression on the morale at the frontline of conservation. Due to continued and generous support, we have now moved beyond those initial basic requirements and focus on not just maintaining systems, but continuously improving operations, always hoping to make a breakthrough in this ongoing fight against rhino poaching, no matter how small. In addition, spare a thought for the Conservation Managers. Conservation is always considered a very glamorous occupation. Quite the contrary, my dear! 75% of the job is pure human resource management and the bulk of the rest is trying to make do with the little financial resources you have. So from my perspective, receiving donor funding is better than having Christmas at home…I’d rather be on station to support my guys! Thanks so much for your support. You don’t know how much it means, no matter how small.

Names are fictional, the event was real.


South Africa


The changing role of a ranger


Dirk Swart | Section Ranger, Manzibomvu, Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park

I shouted to chase it away, but this boy was not having any of that. He charged. I made a dash for the nearest tree. Luckily the rhino went straight past, but I was now bombarded by angry buzzing insects around my head. I sprinted, shouting and waving my hands about. Eventually I stopped, accepting that I would be badly stung, only to find that the buzzing sound was from the flies that frequent rhinos. They obviously thought the perspiration on me was more tempting. When I first arrived in Hluhluwe Game Reserve, early warning signs of what lay ahead were starting to become evident. A sting operation ended in the arrest of two suspects, who had posed as guests at the lodge, in possession of rhino horns. In 2007 we began to lose some rhino in the south. By 2009 there were significant losses. In 2011 we got aerial support, acquiring a small aircraft from the sponsorship of donors, and a helicopter funded by the public. Both would help us to keep a better eye on the whole of the Park.


On 1 April 2006, I moved into the ranger house at HluhluweiMfolozi Park. During my first two years, I patrolled extensively, getting to know the local Zulu names of each hill, valley and river, familiarising myself again with big game. I would often go out and take photographs for monitoring our amazing black rhinos. It was during these early years that I had some close encounters.

ne day in 2008, I bumped into an adult bull. I stalked up to him in the long grass and took some photos. He was unaware of my presence but walking towards me, just five metres away.

It was in 2012 that I got a real wake-up-call: three rhinos were shot just off a tourist road, their horns savagely hacked off. From there, the poaching onslaught grew exponentially. Suddenly, all of our work became directed at counter poaching

and other conservation activities such as routine rhino monitoring took a back seat. A ranger’s work went from long days to long days and long nights, patrolling anywhere and everywhere that poachers may strike next. Field rangers were camping up to 10 days in the bush. The need for specialised equipment was vital. Our relationship with Save the Rhino was paramount during these years, receiving essential kit despite our constant budget cuts. In 2016, we began to work with a professional police unit from the Government, specifically tasked with actions to counter rhino poaching. Now, in 2018, we have set up an Operations Centre in the Park, increasing our ability to relay information quickly and detect poaching activity early. Our rangers have developed their skills, but poaching still continues. The dramatic shift in the situation has changed a Section Ranger’s job to that of almost a full-time law enforcement officer, with little time for anything else. Gone are the more carefree days. My duties now are to put as much protection and deterrence out there as possible. I’m older, wiser, and definitely more experienced than those early days, when my main worries were about avoiding being charged by an angry black rhino. Since the rhino poaching crisis began, it is often difficult to get away from my station. But despite all of this, I’m determined to continue and keep up the fight, however long it may take.



ON THE Extinction or survival. The future of the rhino depends on you. Life On the Edge can be filled with adventure, adrenaline and excitement. But for rhinos, being On the Edge means something entirely different: it’s about extinction or survival. We’d rather it wasn’t. Rhino poaching has reached a crisis point while rhino habitat is shrinking. Today, three of the five species of rhino are Critically Endangered, meaning they face an extremely high chance of extinction in the wild, and two of these have fewer than 80 animals surviving. At Save the Rhino, we believe that we can halt the twin threats of poaching and habit loss and protect rhinos for generations to come. We know rhinos are On the Edge and every day we work to ensure they continue to be part of the future.

On the Edge of Survival In the 1970s, ‘80s and early ‘90s, large-scale poaching saw black rhino populations decline from around 70,000 individuals in 1970 to just 2,410 in 1995 —  that’s a loss of 96% in barely 20 years. Persistent conservation efforts have seen the continental population slowly grow so that today it stands at an estimated 5,500 animals. Rhino conservancies are working around the clock to protect and secure rhinos, but with poachers becoming ever-more sophisticated, rangers urgently need additional resources to combat poaching. We must ensure that rangers have the equipment they need, if Africa’s black rhino population is to continue to rise.


On the Edge of Extinction With only 67 individuals remaining, Javan rhinos are probably the rarest large land mammal in the world. The species used to roam a large part of Southeast Asia, from India, throughout Bangladesh, southern China, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, in Sumatra and the western half of Java. Today, all Javan rhinos live in just one place: Ujung Kulon National Park in Java. This makes Javan rhinos extremely vulnerable to natural disasters and disease. Thankfully, numbers have increased during the last few years, from an estimated low of around 45 animals, but with so few individuals left, the risk of extinction is high.

On the Edge of Success In 1900, some 50 to 100 Southern white rhinos remained after hunting and habitat loss caused their numbers to plummet. Since then, with coordinated conservation efforts, this white rhino subspecies has gone on to become the most numerous of all rhinos. Today, between 19,666 and 21,085 Southern white rhinos exist, the majority of which live in South Africa. Their preference for open, grassy areas, and their sociable nature (they are often found in family groups) mean they are the mostpoached species, with more than 1,000 killed for their horns in 2017 alone. Southern white rhinos have been a conservation success story, but we cannot allow poachers to threaten their future.

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THE RHINO CHALLENGE  A continental perspective We could not have imagined in 2006 that by the end of 2017, Africa would have lost at least 8,363 rhinos. The true figure is likely to have been higher. The ‘opportunity cost’ is equivalent to losing another 1,500 rhino over the same period! Since continental losses peaked in 2015, poaching has promisingly declined, but still remains high at just over three rhinos per day (Fig. 1). Mike Knight | Chair, IUCN SSC African Rhino Specialist Group So, what major challenges do we still face in further reducing the bleeding, and what opportunities have emerged? Reducing poaching remains the foundation of securing our rhino populations. This starts with well-managed security operations in rhino reserves and ideally goes hand-inhand with cooperative engagement across government departments as well as between the Fig. 1 | Number of rhinos killed 2006—17 state, communal and 1500 private sectors. Such 1200 positive actions have 900 been instrumental in 600 reducing poaching in Kenya, Botswana, 300 Swaziland and 0 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 Namibia. A government-wide approach towards addressing the illegal wildlife trade also needs be employed. This includes the use of intelligence to follow the money, together with asset forfeiture. But unfortunately, these are not playing as big a role as they should in reducing poaching. In particular, a bigger emphasis on apprehending, disrupting and taking money from those higher up the criminal pyramid is crucial. Much more attention needs to be devoted here so that wildlife trafficking ceases to be an easy way for organised criminal businesses to make money.

White & black (total) 


Rhino deaths 



All the sterling efforts by rangers are undermined by failures in successfully investigating and prosecuting criminal cases, especially the bringing-to-book of the middle men driving the illegal trade. Kenya’s monitoring of the outcomes of court cases is a good example of pressurising the judiciary. Expanding this approach and tracking progress from arrest to conviction internationally would be of value and could boost ranger morale, as well as send a strong message to criminals.

Breeding rhino populations remains critical to the functioning of the ‘rhino factory’. The intelligent management and monitoring of populations to maximise growth has been the cornerstone of rhino recovery since the 1900s. Establishing rhinos in large, suitable and secure habitats as part of collaborative regional operations has facilitated this. The recent successful reintroductions of black rhinos into Rwanda and Chad, and putting more white rhinos into Botswana are examples. That said, we also need to avoid unnecessary losses (as recently occurred in a Kenyan translocation), though failures such as this should not deter further translocations, especially international ones. An issue of great concern is the loss of capacity and skills within conservation agencies across Africa. It is undermining our ability to deliver secure and growing rhino populations. Retaining, transferring and developing these skills remains essential. Accessing sustainable funding is also a growing issue, especially in the context of rampant anti-poaching costs. It is leading to funding fatigue amongst private owners, the state and donor community. Recent endeavours through impact financing initiatives may help. Threats to sustainable-use options for rhinos is undermining the critically important conservation incentives for private and communal rhino owners in southern Africa who contributed to its vibrant wildlife industry in the first place. But behind all this, the threat to Africa’s rhinos comes from the diversifying use of horn in high-value status goods in south-east Asia. Demand reduction has been suggested as a strategy to address this. Approaching Asian countries as partners in the solution may gain greater traction in addressing the issue and see the bleeding stop.


Thorny Issues

Below: Najin, one of the last remaining Northern white rhinos, is the daughter of Sudan, who died in March

On 19 March this year,

the world was shocked and

saddened to hear that Sudan,

the last male Northern white rhino, a subspecies of 

white rhino, had died.



ind veterinarians euthanised Sudan when age-related infirmities prevented normal movement around his boma.

Sudan’s last few years had been in the safe hands of the vet and rangers at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya and, at the grand old age of 45, it was testament to their dedication that his eventual death was not due to poaching. However, his death did mark a change for rhino conservation: no natural reproduction would now be possible for this subspecies as it is functionally extinct. While this is unnerving for many of us, it is important to think about what this means for all species of rhino.


Northern white rhinos are one of the two white rhino subspecies. The other — as you may have guessed — are the Southern white rhinos, which can be found in Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe, with a total population of around 20,000. In comparison, the two surviving Northern white rhinos live in Kenya, but the species once roamed throughout Uganda, Chad, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As recently as 1960, there were still around 2,360 Northern white rhinos, but widespread poaching and civil wars rapidly exterminated wild populations. Given Sudan’s death, the only possible way of bringing Northern white rhinos back from the brink of total extinction is via artificial means, whether IVF, the use of surrogates, cloning or some other Artificial Reproductive Technique (ART). Teams of scientists in San Diego and Berlin are exploring all the options. So are ARTs the solution for Critically Endangered rhino species (and other wildlife) to reduce the risk of extinction or reverse the apparently inevitable?


Emma Pereira Communications Manager

In conservation there is rarely an appropriate ‘one-sizefits-all’ approach; there will never be one, single answer. But from every situation, lessons can surely be learnt. The IVF research will surely shed more light on rhino reproduction, but it does not mean that IVF is the be-all and end-all for rhinos everywhere. To date, ART efforts involving Sumatran rhinos (pictured above) have not succeeded. The only live births have been as a result of natural breeding in the wild, at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Indonesia, and formerly in Cincinnati Zoo. Both of the latter involved interventions by veterinarians to supplement the mothers’ hormones and reduce the incidence of miscarriage, which had previously set back breeding efforts. The Javan rhino population is — slowly — growing in number on its own, but what it desperately needs is more space to call home. Expanding their habitat should encourage natural breeding by ensuring the land is not too densely populated (research on the African species clearly indicates that breeding performance drops off if the population exceeds 75% of Ecological Carrying Capacity). Of course, simultaneous efforts to reduce poaching and demand for rhino horn are also essential. While clearly valuable, the methods for successfully bringing a new Northern white rhino into the world are unlikely to be successfully realised before the last of the two remaining Northern white rhinos die. At Save the Rhino, we’re keen to make sure that other rhino species do not edge closer to the same fate as that of the Northern whites. We hope that Sudan’s legacy will be one of raising awareness and stopping other Critically Endangered rhinos from wandering off the public radar and into extinction. We will use every appropriate tool we can to stop this happening, remembering that a unique, tailored approach is needed for each situation.



C The Zoological Society of East Anglia Africa Alive! has supported Save the Rhino International since 2014. This year, we’re even more proud to support them as our ambassador conservation charity in celebration of our 50th anniversary year. At Africa Alive! we are home to white rhinos, loved by our visitors and keepers alike. Sarah Lee | Conservation Coordinator, Zoological Society of East Anglia


During the past four years, we’ve raised more than £8,000 to support the rangers protecting rhinos on the ground. From purchasing essential equipment such as sleeping bags and uniforms, to re-thatching the roof at the rangers’ camp, we know the money is supporting the people that need it most.

Throughout 2018 and 2019, we’ll be fundraising directly for one of Save the Rhino’s programmes: Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. The rhino poaching threat in South Africa has meant that rangers here have drastically stepped up their monitoring and patrol efforts to protect the Park’s rhinos. This often involves extended overnight camping trips to patrol large areas of the Park and having a 24/7 presence in the zones most vulnerable to rhino-poaching incursions. The teams are spending much more time in the field and the need for essential equipment for them to operate is ongoing. This is where funds donated from Africa Alive! are vital. As well as a number of rhino-themed fundraising events planned across the year, our team is also walking-the-walk — literally— we are hiking to raise more funds for our horned friends! Six intrepid staff members from Africa Alive! will attempt



onservation is the backbone to all we do at the Zoological Society of East Anglia and we will continue to do all we can to help species thrive in the wild.

the extremely gruelling and sleep-depriving ‘Three Peaks Challenge’ this year, with money raised from this brave challenge going to Hluhluwe-iMfolozi. We are so happy to be part of the conservation effort for these amazing animals and are proud that we are working with Save the Rhino International to further our commitment to protect and conserve these ever-fascinating but severely threatened creatures.

Find out online about our next event Visit — and save — rhinos:


A rhino in Borlänge From an early age, watching the London Marathon was must-see viewing for British-born James Last — the Rhino Runners were, as always, a big part of that experience. His love of running and rhinos meant there was only going to be one result. Now living in Borlänge, Sweden, Rhino Runner James brought the costume to his adopted country for the inaugural ‘Rhino Run Borlänge’. Adam Shaffer | Fundraising Officer


or James, just collecting the rhino costume from our London office, crossing central London dressed as a rhino and handing it over to a removal firm for shipping to Sweden, was an adventure in itself.

James’s introduction as the Running Rhino was 2018’s Gothenburg half marathon, a race of around 40,000 runners. For most of the people running or spectating, this would have been an unforgettable introduction to the famous rhino costume.

The support on course was fantastic, I could actually hear the supporters’ cheers travelling along the road ahead of me

Above: James and rhino costume in Sweden Left: James’ event in Sweden went so well that he’ll be putting on more!

Standing out like a sore thumb does have its advantages. Post-race, James was herded into a Swedish television studio for an interview in costume — not ideal when your pulse is through the roof. Nonetheless, the clip has been viewed more than 14,000 times on Facebook, a national newspaper ran a full-page feature and five regional papers also covered James’s Running Rhino heroics.

Following up from Gothenburg, James worked hard to generate excitement for his very own charity run, the Rhino Run Borlänge, with all surplus revenue from race registrations coming to Save the Rhino.


The charity run took place in early September 2018. As event organiser, James went all out to ensure a successful debut. Featuring both 5 km and 10 km races, each participant’s race pack contained printed numbers and a professional chip-timing system. To attract as many people as possible, for this first year James kept the entry fee low. He also managed to source race sponsorship, and donations of sports drinks and lottery prizes. The event attracted a wide range of competitors. James had always emphasised that the race was for everyone: walkers, joggers and club runners alike. James Last has gone from long-time admirer to Rhino Runner. With the triumph of the Rhino Run Borlänge under his belt, everybody here at Save the Rhino is excited to see what he does next.





Vietnam Laos

Thailand Cambodia




what you can’t see Java is the world’s most populous island, with around 141 million inhabitants, and one of the most densely-populated places on the globe, yet it also contains the only place in the world that the Critically Endangered Javan rhino can be found (if you can spot them): in the remote Ujung Kulon National Park (UKNP). The existence of Javan rhinos here is nothing short of a miracle. Only about 40% of the island is considered suitable Javan rhino habitat. The lack of space combined with poaching pressure has meant that this rare species has hovered at fewer than 100 individuals for decades. UKNP is also home to other endangered plants, mammals, and birds. Kelly Russo | Communications Manager, International Rhino Foundation



67 Javan rhino population JAVA


espite the odds, the Javan rhino population is relatively stable, due in no small part to the watchful eye of professional anti-poaching teams: the Rhino Protection Units (RPUs).

In fact, with their improved monitoring techniques, we now know that the Javan rhino population has been slowly increasing in recent years.

For 19 years, RPUs have patrolled the dense Ujung Kulon rainforest looking for Javan rhinos. Each RPU squad is comprised of four men, all highly trained in tracking, surveillance and survival skills. On average, they are out in the field for 15 days each month. The days are long and the nights camping out under the forest canopy can be oppressively hot, but these dedicated rangers are proud of what they do and wouldn’t have it any other way. Like their ranger counterparts in Africa, RPUs prevent trespassing, poaching, trapping and other illegal activities, while also monitoring the rhino population and other large mammal activity. But there is one big difference in their work — the RPUs rarely see rhinos. Every rhino footprint or wallow discovery creates a ripple of excitement throughout the entire team because it indicates how the rhinos are using their habitat.

Right: The rangers are out camping for 15 days straight each month Below: The team rarely see rhinos, but are dedicated to protect them

RPUs IN 2017

More than 5,400 km covered in patrols Three direct rhino sightings

110 cases of illegal activity found 114 rhino footprints 30 wallows

RPUs also keep tabs on the rest of the threatened species within the Park. Most importantly, they are constantly on the lookout for signs of poachers. They are true experts when it comes to discovering and dismantling the cleverly disguised snares that can prove deadly to rhinos.


Spending 15 days on patrol in Indonesia’s dense rain forests requires quite a bit of planning and almost genius-level-inTetris packing skills. Each squad must carry not only all the equipment needed for recording signs of rhino activity, but also tools to dismantle poaching snares; all this in addition to their camping gear, food and tools, and all in one backpack. Everything included, an average RPU member’s pack weighs between 60—80 pounds. For relief from the unrelenting insect bites and the afternoon heat, Javan rhinos often spend time cooling off in quiet river waters. Units often paddle canoes up and down these rivers searching for rhino signs. More often than not, while the rhinos themselves remain elusive, they find illegal

poachers, fishermen and loggers. At this point they have to transform from rhino monitors into law enforcement officers. Catching and prosecuting poachers is a difficult business. The RPUs take special care to work with surrounding communities to gather information and maintain a positive presence — this is vital to obtaining leads on the location of traps and acts as a deterrent to would-be poachers. Without the presence of RPUs, the Javan rhino would certainly have been lost from Ujung Kulon long ago. As the Javan rhino population expands, it is critical that this intensive protection continue.


Viet Nam

How we’re working towards


Promoting public participation

through media engagement ENV

for rhino horn

This will include a Public Service Announcement (PSA) and video advertisement aired across 60—80 TV channels, reaching millions of Vietnamese viewers. To help increase the reach of these messages, we are supporting the production and development of ENV’s media content, ensuring that outreach is effective by thorough evaluation.


This year, thanks in large part to a very generous legacy from the Estate of Betty Liebert, we’re supporting four new projects with our partners TRAFFIC and Education for Nature-Vietnam (ENV). All of the projects are aimed at reducing the demand for illegal rhino horn in two of the key consumer countries: China and Viet Nam.

We are continuing our support for ENV’s work to reduce rhino horn crime and consumer demand in Viet Nam, with a particular focus this year on public engagement activities.

The project will also support more traditional media activities, including proactive engagement with newspapers and magazines.

Chinese tourism





Social media

IN CHINA More than ever, the illegal wildlife trade is moving online.

More than 10% of rhino horn in Viet Nam is thought to be consumed by government officers.

Between 2012 and 2016, TRAFFIC found that rhino horn products accounted for almost a fifth of online adverts for illegal wildlife products on a number of e-commerce and social media sites.

Building on the success of the Chi initiative — a behaviourchange project that targeted business leaders and other key rhino horn consumers in Viet Nam — we will be finding out more about the motivations of government officers consuming horn.



Working with a sample of Chinese and Vietnamese border customs, tourism authorities and tour operators, we’ll be improving our understanding of the link between tourism and the illegal wildlife trade, and the opportunities to tackle this. A key part of the project is developing communications materials that promote responsible tourism, driving behaviour change of Chinese tourists who purchase rhino horn in Vietnam.

We’ll be using targeted messaging to potential consumers through social media, aiming to drive down demand. TRAFFIC

Using a similar model to the Chi programme (pictured above), we aim to develop materials and messages that change social norms, creating a zero-tolerance attitude to rhino horn consumption.



Laura Hoy | Deputy Director

The messages will be delivered to raise awareness, call for action, and trigger social discussion.

Indonesia I t’s time to have

“The Conversation” Sex. Good, old-fashioned S-E-X. More than 29,000 rhinos and 7.6 billion people walk the Earth because of it. Sex works, right? Parents’ nightmares of teenagers aside, one of the most basic instincts for all species is to reproduce. Susie Ellis | Executive Director, International Rhino Foundation (IRF)


et, despite their innate drive to have young, some rhino species are notoriously difficult to breed, especially in managed settings. Sumatran rhinos, in particular, have presented captive managers with a steep learning curve.

The species has been held in captivity since the mid1980s but, because of a number of factors, breeding was not successful until 2001, when the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens produced a calf. Under IRF’s Board Member Dr Terri Roth’s leadership, Cincinnati subsequently produced three more calves; two males and a female. Unfortunately, the parents and the female calf died of natural causes. Both males were later moved to the Sumatran Rhino Sumatran rhinos have Sanctuary (SRS) in Indonesia, where one become a father and one is trying to declined in the wild has be a dad with all his heart (and body).

by about 80% during the past 20 years

It’s no secret — the key to successful reproduction is getting males and the females together at precisely the right time. For Sumatran rhinos, this is a 2-day window when a female’s ovarian follicle reaches 18—20 mm in diameter. Using methods perfected by Dr Roth and colleagues, the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary’s veterinarians monitor each female’s follicular development. When the time is right, they put her with a male. So far, this tried-and-true method has seen two calves produced at the SRS: a male, Andatu in 2012, and a female, Delilah, in 2016.

It is possible that ARTs could help the Sumatran rhino further down the road. To preserve all options, and with thanks to training by the San Diego Institute for Conservation Research, the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary has also cryo-preserved fibroblasts (the precursor for stem cells). But the technology, which could help to slightly increase numbers, will likely not be in place in time given the rate of decline. To-date, no species has been saved by ‘high-tech’ approaches alone. But when integrated with natural breeding and protection of wild populations, such technologies have proven valuable. We need to tackle the challenges facing Sumatran rhinos using multi-faceted approaches, keeping the door open for ‘high-tech’ science while also using the tried-and-true methods. We applaud the advances and the exploratory value of advanced reproductive technology for future rhino conservation efforts, including with the Northern white rhinos. For Sumatran rhinos, for now, we’ll take good, old-fashioned S-E-X. More please!


So what about reproduction by artificial means? Following the death of Sudan, the last male Northern white rhino, in March 2018, the issue of Advanced Reproductive Techniques (ARTs) to save rhino species has once again become a hot topic. Despite an undocumented (but large) number of procedures conducted during the course of 20+ years, fewer than 10 live rhino births have resulted from artificial insemination, and these only in the white and Greater one-horned rhino species. Just a handful of rhino embryos have ever been created: one grew to two cells, the other to three cells, and at least one, from a Northern white rhino and Southern white rhino, has recently been developed to the blastocyst stage in vitro.



Looking after the world’s most endangered land mammal

The Sumatran rhino is so rare that even scientists and rangers who’ve dedicated their lives to their protection have often never seen one in the wild. There are now thought to be fewer than 80 individuals, scattered across 10 small subpopulations. Opportunities for breeding are rare. Interview with Dr Agvinta Nilam




Indonesia What’s the hardest part of your job? ‘It’s very isolated, being in the middle of Way Kambas National Park. There is no mobile phone service here, so it is difficult to keep in touch with friends and family.

What’s the best part of your job? ‘Watching Delilah grow up is my favourite part of my job. I’ve totally fallen in love with her. And now she’s even bigger than her Mom, Ratu, and that makes me very happy. ‘ It’s also exciting working to get Rosa pregnant. She’s had several miscarriages, but we’re working with top vets from around the world to adapt her care so that, hopefully, she’ll carry a pregnancy full-term.

The Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS) on the island of Sumatra is the only breeding facility in the world dedicated to the breeding of and research into the world’s most endangered land mammal. We sat down with one of the newest members of the team, Dr Agvinta Nilam, a 26-year-old veterinarian, to learn more about what it’s like being a vet at the SRS. What inspired you to become a wildlife veterinarian? ‘I’ve always thought that being a wildlife vet would be the best job in the world. During my veterinary studies at Bogor Agricultural University, I joined a wildlife interest group, which sparked my interest and awareness of the endangered species of Indonesia. I decided to find a way to make a difference and contribute to wildlife conservation here in Indonesia.

How did you get this job? ’Social media! I saw it online in early 2017 and I knew it would be difficult but important work. ‘At the time, I had only seen pictures of Sumatran rhinos. After applying, Mr Sumadi, the SRS Manager, asked me to visit the breeding facility before the interview. I’ll never forget him saying to me, “You must know what it’s really like, because the SRS is very special place, unlike any place on earth”. And he was right! The SRS is an incredible place with amazing animals.

What do your friends and family think about your work? ‘My family thinks working with wild animals is dangerous. It was hard to ask for permission from my family to work here — especially from my mom. But I’ve always said to her that working with wild animals is my passion. ‘Now my family is proud of what I do and they understand that working with them takes a lot of dedication. My friends think that my job is very cool and challenging. I mean, I do get to stay 24/7 in the jungle, with no mobile service and I get to work with the world’s most critically endangered land mammal!

What’s it like to live at the SRS? ‘The people here are like my family. We laugh together, we’re sad together — we do everything together! It is such a great team. Mr Sumadi, the SRS Manager, is like my father here at the SRS. He’s taught me everything I know and he’s the best teacher — he’s the one who built this place! Mrs Siti, the camp cook, is like my mom, always taking good care of me.

What do you most want people to know about Sumatran rhinos? ‘I really want people know how rare the Sumatran rhino is —  there are fewer than 80 animals left. It’s time to worry and to fight for their survival! Sumatran rhino conservation is not easy; we need support from as many people as possible. I hope readers continue to talk to their friends and family about this amazing species and increase awareness. ‘I also want to thank everyone for their support. Thanks to them, the SRS is successfully breeding Sumatran rhinos. We’re excited to expand our operations here and hope to have many more rhino babies in the near future.’

What most surprised you about the work? ‘Everything! I get to work with the most Critically Endangered species in the world. The SRS is the only place in the world where scientists can learn all about these animals. Now I’m here, I’m determined to learn as much as I can about Sumatran rhinos and to fight for their survival.



Save the Rhino International Connecting conservation and communities Unit 3, Coach House Mews, 217 Long Lane, London SE1 4PR T: +44 (0)20 7357 7474 E: W:

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Save the Rhino International, Inc

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Profile for Save the Rhino International

The Horn 2018  

Packed with rhino news, updates and stories from Save the Rhino International and our programme partners across Africa and Asia.

The Horn 2018  

Packed with rhino news, updates and stories from Save the Rhino International and our programme partners across Africa and Asia.