Who is the Australian Rhino Project?

Established in 2013, The Australian Rhino Project is a conservation organisation that is committed to working as part of the collective international fight to protect African rhinoceros from extinction and preserve them for future generations. The project is currently in collaboration with the Royal Zoological Society of South Australia, Orana Wildlife Trust, and Taronga Conservation Society Australia. The collective group of this project consists of individuals, supporters, and partner organisations who are passionate about ensuring the survival of the rhinoceros. Since the start of the project, the poaching epidemic has only increased in South Africa and the future of the rhino species continues to become more precarious.

What is our vision?

The Australian Rhino Project is currently working to expand the population of white rhinos in Australia and New Zealand to maintain a genetically diverse breeding crash. The project aims to relocate a breeding herd of white rhinos from South Africa to Australia. 

Why are we doing this project?

Rhinos are among the world’s most endangered species listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List, with their population under severe threat due to poaching, habitat loss, and other human activities. Over the past 10 years, official figures suggest that 9,396 rhinos have been poached in South Africa. With an estimated remaining population of less than 20,000 white rhinos, the species is becoming increasingly threatened due to poaching. Rhino populations in Asia and Africa have also been heavily impacted by poaching. Poaching has been driven by an illicit demand for rhino horn. 

An extensive range of conservation interventions are underway that seek to prevent the extinction of Southern White Rhinoceros in its Range States through the delivery of on-the-ground action, like improving the security of Rhino populations and increasing habitat. While existing measures to protect White Rhino are seeing rapid and encouraging population growth rates in some places, overall, the population continues to decline.

Among threats to the continued growth of populations, are the lack of land for populations to expand into, and the continued threat of poaching.  Significantly increased poaching since 2007 has greatly increased protection costs, and risks to investment in White Rhino conservation, and staff. The continued rapid increase in numbers and range of White Rhino is now contingent on primarily private landowners and communities making additional land available for White Rhino conservation. Insufficient human and financial resources are also constraining the conservation of White Rhino in situ. Additional resources are urgently required to help address the escalating poaching that has occurred following an increase in illegal demand for White Rhino horn in Southeast Asia and a sharp rise in black market horn prices.

There is a need to elevate the profile and public awareness of the positive contribution of White Rhino to the landowners in South Africa. There is a need to encourage and implement new innovative mechanisms for sustainable financing of white rhino populations. There is a need to increase the number of emerging private landowners and communities conserving White Rhino. For sustained growth, there is a need to create/enhance positive economic incentives to encourage further White Rhino breeding and range expansion and to finance protection.

 

Populations of Rhino outside of Range state help to reinforce direct conservation actions and interventions by raising public awareness beyond the species' native borders, connecting broader audiences with the plight of the species, supporting the delivery of educational messaging, and advocating for their species.

In Australasia, the Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia (ZAA) and its Members manage a genetically healthy ex-situ population of White Rhino outside of Range State, away from key threats.  Four ZAA Welfare-Accredited open-range zoos in Australasia are working with us to import rhinos from South Africa to further nurture and grow this collaboratively managed non-Range State population and to catalyze additional support for White Rhino conservation in Range State.

Our Contribution to the Solution:


We commend South Africa’s efforts to sustain a rapid increase in the numbers of White Rhino across the country. Rhinos proposed to be imported from South Africa will join the existing ex-situ population of White Rhino in Australia and New Zealand, and help to catalyze additional action to:

  1. deliver public education, raise public awareness of the plight of the rhino, and contribute to demand reduction activities;
  2. implement a sustainable mechanism to contribute finance for rhino conservation in Range State;
  3. facilitate research into breeding performance in semi-intensive and open range zoo setups for application in/to further support management in Range State if required;
  4. provide an additional layer of assurance to Range State conservation efforts.

 

 

 

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If we do not act now, rhinos may be extinct in the wild in less than 10 years.

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