“Fossil Rim demonstrating once again the invaluable contributions to ‘conservation through captive breeding’ made by the private sector in Texas!” ~ Andrew Wyatt
During the 1980s and 1990s the country of Zimbabwe had a thriving population of black rhinos and they were managed well by the government and by private ranchers. Unfortunately, poaching came to their country and the conservation of many species was threatened—including black rhinos.
Captive rhino managers in the United States and Australia combined resources and approached the government of Zimbabwe with the idea of bringing ten rhinos to the United States and ten rhinos to Australia as an assurance population against the extinction of the species in Zimbabwe. Fossil Rim was an instrumental player in the formation of the International Black Rhino Foundation (now called the International Rhino Foundation—and focusing on all rhino species), which had the mission of capturing, transporting and managing southern black rhinos ex situ (outside of their normal range, usually meaning captive management). There were several months of negotiations—field experts thought they had about 2500…
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The only way to stop the trading in ivory or rhino horn would be to make the penalities stricker, prisons sentences for all, and confiscation of not only the ivory and rhino horn but freezing all their assets and if found guilty confiscation of all their assets and giving it over to conservation. Only if you make it truely costly to those at the top who are creating the demand will it make a difference. Also use TV and prominent people to advocate against the use of anything that has these products in all this goes towards educating the next generation, hopefully there will be something left by then.
This is not an answer to rhino poaching, nor a commentary on enforcement efforts. It is simply a conservation “safety net” utilizing the husbandry skills of those who work directly with animals of many types every day. There is great merit in the concept of “conservation through captive breeding” as a last resort. Kudos to Fossil Rim for stepping up to the plate.
Conservation trough captive breeding has great merit. This can be seen in South Africa. Rhino(black and white), roan, sable, cheetah, lion, buffalo and just about all common plains game species on private land is a product of this concept.
There needs to be an understanding that these animals at one stage needs to be re-introduced in the wild. Herein is the problem, the natural environment (habitat) gets smaller and there is no space for the animal – cheetah. Guidelines need to be established though because there will always be someone exploiting the situation.
Thanks Pieter- You make an excellent point regarding reintroduction, when the habitat is shrinking or disappearing, there becomes fewer options. With continued development in Africa, space for these large plains animals will increasingly be in short supply.
Here is an article I wrote earlier in the year regarding the challenges faced in captive conservation: https://andreww1blog.wordpress.com/2014/03/24/extinction-v-captive-conservation-the-fate-of-the-three-amigos/