Celebrating Efforts in Cincinnati and Beyond to Save Rhinos on World Rhino Day

Posted September 22, 2016
Black rhino (Photo: Mark Dumont)
Black rhino (Photo: Mark Dumont)

On World Rhino Day, we celebrate the combined rhino conservation efforts of zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). Over the past five years, AZA zoos have invested over $5.1 million in rhino conservation, taking part in more than 160 field conservation projects benefiting all five rhinoceros species: black, white, greater one-horned (Indian), Sumatran, and Javan.

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is proud to be a part of this larger effort. Today, I’d like to highlight just two of the amazing efforts we support to help save rhinos in the wild. One takes place right here in Cincinnati and involves community members like you. The other is happening on the other side of the world in Zambia and Vietnam.

Bowling for Rhinos

Fun times at last year's Bowling for Rhinos event!
Fun times at last year’s Bowling for Rhinos event!

For the third year in a row, the Greater Cincinnati Chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers (GCCAAZK) is holding a Bowling for Rhinos event to raise awareness and funds for rhino conservation. Proceeds from the event support rhino conservation efforts in national parks and wildlife conservancies in Kenya, Java, and Sumatra. This year’s event will take place from 5:00 to 10:00pm on October 1 at Stone Lanes. Even though tickets to bowl have already sold out, all are welcome to stop by and participate in the rest of the activities. There will be a silent auction and raffle as well as t-shirts and other merchandise for sale. It’s always a great time!

Can’t make it to the actual event, but still want to support rhinos? AAZK is seeking lane sponsors for the event. For $100, you will have your name (or that of your business) displayed prominently above one of the bowling lanes at the event.  Your name or logo will also be displayed on our “Event Sponsors” poster at the event, and GCCAAZK will highlight you or your company as a sponsor with a post on its Facebook page. And because AAZK is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, your donations are tax deductible. If you would like to become a Bowling for Rhinos sponsor, please contact Jenna at [email protected].

Using Dogs to Combat Rhino Poaching and Trafficking

A detection dog team with Working Dogs for Conservation (Photo: The Wild Center)
A detection dog team with Working Dogs for Conservation (Photo: The Wild Center)

Rhino poaching for horns is at an all-time high and rhino populations are declining pretty much everywhere they are found. One way to combat poaching and trafficking of rhino horns is to increase the risk of getting caught engaging in these illegal activities, and dogs have the sniffers to do just that.

Working Dogs for Conservation (WDC) is leading the way in the use of dogs’ extraordinary sense of smell to protect wildlife and wild places. Dogs have been trained to detect everything from wild animal scat to poaching snares to assist with field research and conservation. A well-trained dog and its handler are powerful weapons against wildlife crime.

Through the Zoo’s Internal Conservation Grants Fund, we are currently supporting WDC in the creation of dog-handler teams to combat rhino trafficking specifically in Zambia and Vietnam. In North Luangwa National Park, the only remaining home for black rhinos in Zambia, dogs are trained to search vehicles leaving the park for rhino horn and other illegal wildlife products. In Vietnam, considered to be the world’s largest market for rhino horn, dogs are trained to search for illegal wildlife products in international airports and seaports.

Dogs are able to quickly check vehicles and shipping containers. They are also mobile, allowing the checkpoints to be moved unpredictably, which makes it more difficult for smugglers to anticipate checks. This combination of efficiency and mobility makes dogs more versatile and useful than humans or even x-ray machines. Seizures will increase the costs and risks of poaching and provide critically important intelligence for the fight against rhino poaching.