The Great Big Rhino Project by Paignton Zoo
At a BIAZA conference in 2013, Professor Camille Parmesan nailed the wide ranging effects of climate change when she declared that “polar bears are toast”.
Climate change, habitat loss and poaching
On the equator the situation for around 900 remaining mountain gorillas is even worse where their restricted range in the rarefied reaches of 4 national parks in central Africa are further threatened by bush-meat hunters and habitat loss through simple encroachment by subsistence farmers and small scale loggers.
In the case of Africa’s black and white rhino populations, their survival has little to do with climate change and habitat loss though. The African poaching onslaught threatens extinction of around 20000 wild individuals within a decade if current trends continue.
African conservation isn’t simple
Conservation within the African context is immensely complicated. National Parks, their boundaries and local management policies are defined but the lack of political will and inadequate resources simply add complexity. Poachers and poaching syndicates flourish in the meantime.
At the sharp end of anti-poaching efforts, small non-profit organisations like Chengeta Wildlife literally put lives on the line for African conservation every day. Larger, well-funded, listed safari operations like Wilderness Safaris have a profit motive behind their 4C’s (commerce, conservation, community, culture) but there’s zero profit in their conservation efforts and so they maintain a very delicate balance for conservation.
Conservation costs money - raising funds is top of the agenda
Zoos and captive animals might not fit well with some hard-core wildlife enthusiasts. Similarly big-game hunters don’t ring bells for some conservationists. The truth is that the full conservation picture isn’t simply two dimensional, it includes some complex truths at its extremes and that central spot is a very tiny and ineffective place to be.
Education and local involvement lays the foundation for African communities to protect their wildlife legacies. As is creating awareness outside of Africa for fundraising to support conservation.
So with rhino horn sitting at the top of the food chain for poachers, here’s an opportunity to become better informed and to get directly involved.
In the UK - the Great Big Rhino Project
Paignton Zoo in the UK’s SouthWest is celebrating over 90 years of conservation and education in 2016. “Celebration, Conservation, Collaboration”, between the zoo, local business and public art with the Great Big Rhino Project.
It entails a world class mass public art event with 40 life-size rhinos in the streets, parks and open spaces of the English Riviera for 10 weeks during the summer of 2016. The rhinos return to Paignton Zoo, 14-16 October before being auctioned off in support of rhino conservation on 3 November 2016.
In Zimbabwe - conservation in action
Between 6 – 18 November 2016, we have spaces open on a safari in Zimbabwe together with Simon Tonge (Executive Director at South West Environmental Parks). Contact Trish Berry for full details.
We’re using Victoria Falls, a World Heritage Site, a Natural Wonder of the World, southern Africa’s primary safari hub as the launching point. In addition to all of the elements you’d find on an adventurous African safari we’ll see conservation in action in Zambezi National Park, Hwange National Park and the Mabobo Hills World Heritage Site.
Full details on the safari at www.bit.ly/rhinosafari.
Find out more:
- The Great Big Rhino Project: Paignton Zoo’s 2016 initiative in aid of rhino conservation “Celebration, Conservation, Collaboration” #GreatBigRhinos
- Wildlife in Art: a world class mass public art event involving 40 life size rhinos on a trail in the UK’s southwest for 10 weeks during the summer of 2016
- Save the Rhino International: connecting conservation and communities
- Dambari Wildlife Trust: an enduring partnership between Marwell Wildlife, Paignton Zoo and the Whitley Conservation Trust near Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
- Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit: a non-profit organisation conserving local wildlife and natural resources around Victoria Falls
- Chengeta Wildlife: a non-profit organisation offering advanced anti-poaching ranger training in protected wild areas