By Amelia Meyer
In response to this crisis, many organisations have been established around the world with the sole purpose of protecting these magnificent beasts. This takes an enormous amount of money, time and trained and committed staff members to be able to coordinate successfully.
Extensive research is also necessary in order for their efforts to make any sort of impact. Most programmes need to be researched and implemented within the territory of the rhinos, but there are certainly many successful projects that take place in captivity. Many of the organisations also need to battle against frustrating legislation coupled with the illegal activities of poachers.
One of the most significant aims of each of these organisations is to raise awareness of the dangers facing animals as well as of the ever-declining numbers of rhino around the world. Getting sponsors and the support of media representatives is a vital part of preserving the world’s remaining population of rhinoceros.
The most important method of conservation is, undeniably, protection from threat and danger. This is more difficult than it should be, since the black market demands rhino horns in large numbers. This means that criminals will go to deplorable and unforgivable lengths to slaughter rhinos.
Because of the high value attached to these horns, it is, sadly, often the case that those that should be protecting the animals are actually those aiding the poachers to find and kill the rhinos.
This is an ongoing challenge facing those organisations that are legitimately trying to safeguard these animals.
For this reason, rhinos are, when possible, kept in captivity, since it is far easier to protect them there.
The IRF (International Rhino Foundation), established in 1989, is one of the world’s best-known conservation organisations for these animals. They recently funded (either wholly or partially) the following projects, which are just some of their more recent endeavours:
•Understanding the Mechanisms and Causes of Male-Biased Sex Ratios (BSR) in Captivity, W.L. Linklater, N. Czekala and P. Law, University of Wellington and Zoological Society of San Diego
•Why Do Captive-Born Female White Rhinos Fail To Produce?, R. Swaisgood, Zoological Society of San Diego
•Nutritional Ecology of the Black Rhinoceros, S. Helary, University of Liege, Belgium
•Use of Doppler Ultrasound Technology To Detect Indicators of Estrus, Ovulation and Cycle Fertility in Captive Asian Rhino Species, M.A. Stoops, Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden
•Early Foetal Sexing in the Rhinoceros by Detection of Male Specific Genes in Maternal Serum, M.A. Stoops and T.L. Roth, Cincinnati Zoo &Botanical Garden
•Feasibility of Rhinoceros Sperm Sexing Using Flow Cytometry Technology, Sea World, Busch Gardens and Cincinnati Zoo &Botanical Garden