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May Update from The Australian Rhino Project
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Project Update  May 2015

It is just on two years since I was contacted by Humph in Johannesburg urging me to consider establishing a breeding herd of rhinoceros in Australia give the dreadful onslaught of these magnificent animals in South Africa.  (South Africa remains the home to 90% of the world's remaining rhinos).

In 2012, 668 rhinos were poached for their horn; in 2013 this number soared to 1004 and in 2014, this record was shattered with the official tally being announced as 1215 killed rhinos. It is really important to note that it is generally accepted that these numbers are understated by at least thirty percent, so we can safely say that between 2012 and 2014, approximately 4,000 rhinos have been slaughtered for their horns.

In February 2015, the South African Department of Environment announced that it was no longer going to publicise the details of rhino kills or provide any statistics pertaining to the poaching of South Africa’s rhinos. Despite the tens of millions donated to anti-poaching efforts, the situation continues to deteriorate and there is no end in sight.

By May 5, 550 rhinos had been poached in South Africa in 2015. This number does not include the rhino carcasses that aren't found, unborn calves and calves that are killed after their mothers were poached.

You will note in the graphic below that the number of rhinos killed has doubled every two years or so. Given that statistic and the numbers below, another unfortunate ‘record’ will be broken in 2015 with present estimates to be close to 2000 for the year.

It is now almost universally agreed that the ‘tipping point’ – where the rhino kill rate exceeds the birth rate – has been reached. This will have tragic consequences for the remaining rhinos on our planet.
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Please do not think for one minute that this cannot happen on our watch.  Whoever thought this would happen?

Cause and Effect

In most markets it is possible to control, or at worst manage, supply and/or demand. What makes wildlife trade such a complex issue is the perfect storm of the widespread poverty and pressure on wildlife areas in Africa and elsewhere by large, unemployed communities and a frighteningly rapid increase in affluence in Asia in particular.  The real game changer however is the intervention of the International crime syndicates. These people have their own highly sophisticated intelligence networks and supply chains. 

Please note that this does not only apply to rhino horn trade but also elephant tusks. It is an established fact that global terror groups focus heavily on what they see as easy pickings -  illicit wildlife trading. A recently published figure indicated that these terror groups were  being funded to the tune of US$500,000 per week from elephant poaching alone to fund their murderous campaigns. The stakes are very, very high and sadly the plight of animals such as rhinos and elephants are simply a casualty along the way.

Somehow and sometime soon a balance must be found between the indiscriminate elimination of wildlife and the ability of a nation, or even a continent, to feed itself.

On the demand side, governments must stand tall in legislating against all such illicit trade. Please see the attached link  for the “Traditional Medicine” street Vietnam, Lan Ong Street, Hoan Kiem District – featured in BBC Newsnight: Most of the shops openly advertise that they sell the ‘rhino grinding dish”. 

The Australian Rhino Project status

The past two years have taught us a great deal about the rhino poaching issue and it is highly complex. There are thousands of people around the world who are fighting the scourge of poaching. Fighting in a literal sense and fighting by contributing funds and time to the cause of saving these animals from drifting into extinction.

What has also become clear to us is that there is no one simple answer to this issue. If there had been this war would be over. By contrast, every single day, men and women lay their lives on the line to prevent poachers from attacking the rhinos and stealing their horns.

The events of the past two years have firmed our resolve that our goal of building a breeding herd of rhinos in Australia as an insurance policy against extinction is but one of many solutions that absolutely must be explored and implemented without delay. Whilst bold, daring and daunting, this project is not a ‘thought bubble’. In the mid-nineties and early 2000’s both black and white rhinos were airlifted from Zimbabwe and South Africa to Australia. In fact one of the veterinarians working with us on our project was on the plane with the rhinos. These animals have survived and prospered in Australia and it now time to increase the numbers of rhinos and also the resulting genetic diversity in this country so that we here in Australia can continue to make our contribution to this global response to illegal wildlife trafficking and to the potential saving of a species from extinction.

You will be very pleased to know that we have identified a family herd of white rhinos which are ready to be shipped to Australia and, as a result, we are now very much at the pointy end of this project and the critical points to be addressed before we ship the rhinos to Australia include:

  • Confirmation and certification of the adequacy and suitability of  the quarantine facility in South Africa by the Australian Government
  • Readiness of the Australian quarantine facilities at either Western Plains Zoo and/or Monarto Zoo
  • Identification of an appropriate carrier to bring the rhinos to Australia for safekeeping for a period of time.
Help us relocate these rhinos to Australia

As you would expect, the most critical element of all this is money. Thanks to great support from the Australian Government, any donation that you make is tax deductible.  

Some costs that may help you consider your donation to the Australian Rhino Project: 
  • Feeding a rhino for a day - $38
  • Veterinary costs to prepare a rhino for transport - $483 
  • Build a transporting crate for a rhino - $2,250
  • Quarantine costs per rhino for 60 days - $8,218
  • Flight cost for a single rhino - $40,000

We ask you to give and to give generously - please visit

All gifts can be pledged over five years and all are fully tax-deductible

For those supporters who are based in the US or UK, tax deductible donations can now be made via WILD Organisation at .  Be certain to include "The Australian Rhino Project" in your donation details.


Finally, please note the following dates in your diaries:
  • Sunday, May 17 - The Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon

    • We would love for you to join The Australian Rhino Project Team at this year's Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon. Simply follow these steps to join our team:
    • Go to: and  click on ''Join Team'' and follow the steps to create your online fundraising page.
    • By joining The Australian Rhino Project Team you will be running to help save these magnificent creatures. We will offer you lots of support with your training and your fundraising and loads of fun along the way. All team runners who raise over $200 will receive a Team T-shirt and free membership to The Australian Rhino Project for a year. Here is one of our supporters running in his rhino suit in the London Marathon.
  • Thursday, May 28 at 7pm  - The movie - We are Rhino and White Gold on at 405 Crown Street, Surry Hills

  • Tuesday, September 16 – Dinner - World Rhino Day Dinner at the Westin Hotel Sydney
We would like to draw your attention to a book recently published by Heather Caddick.  Heather and her family have devoted much of their lives to supporting rhino conservation.  The book is entitles "For The Love of Rhinos (and this Life)"

All profits from all book sales go to Rhino conservation.  It is an excellent read.  Books can be purchased from
Bradley Schroder, CEO of Welgevonden Game Reserve competing in a marathon for the rhinos.
Finally, a link to a sad story with a happy ending – “Thandi’s calf “

On behalf of everyone at the Australian Rhino Project, I would like to thank you so much to everyone who has supported us to this point. We will not give up.

Thank you for your support
Ray Dearlove


PS.  Congratulations to Taronga Western Plain Zoo on the newest addition to the Australian rhino family.  

Wonderful news - the legend continues!
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