Rhinos under the hammer

Auction in Berlin in aid of the northern white rhinoceros

“One-of-a-kind” Sudan (43) recently joined online dating site Tinder. His dry spell is no joke – Sudan is a northern white rhino bull and truly the last of his kind. Because of his advanced age and low sperm count, he is no longer able to reproduce the natural way and is therefore unlikely to sire any offspring with the only two remaining females of his species – Najin (25) and Fatu (15). Sudan’s Tinder profile is a fun way to raise awareness about the plight of the northern white rhino.

Rhino conservationists are now putting their last hopes in science, and plan to use artificial insemination and a surrogate mother to save the northern white rhinoceros from extinction. To finance this last-ditch rescue mission, the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) is organising an unusual fundraising event in cooperation with Zoo and Tierpark Berlin and Czech zoo Dvůr Králové. On 5 October 2017, the Kempinski Adlon hotel in Berlin will host a charity auction in aid of the northern white rhino, presented by journalist and TV presenter Nina Ruge. Among the desirable objects up for auction will be an oil painting by Hungarian artist Anton Molnár and a 3D print of a rhinoceros skull from the research lab at university TU Berlin. “We are delighted to be supporting this important project,” says Zoo and Tierpark Director Dr Andreas Knieriem, going on to explain what makes the auction so unique: “The bidders will not only have the satisfaction of acquiring a valuable work of art, they will also know that they have contributed to attempts to save a critically endangered species.” More information about the auction can be found at: www.izw-berlin.de/Auktion.html.

Just in time for World Rhino Day on 22 September, Zoo and Tierpark Berlin have received good news about the rhinoceros projects they are supporting in Vietnam and Kenya:

Vietnam: Through numerous campaigns, NGO Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV) has focused the attention of the Vietnamese media on the topic of the illegal trade in rhinoceros horn and educated the public about wildlife protection. ENV raises awareness through exhibitions and by setting up information stands at various ministries, universities and schools. With its role-playing scenarios, contests, discussions, petitions, social media campaigns, celebrity testimonials and the help of thousands of volunteers, ENV makes people aware of how the consumption of rhino horn is decimating rhinoceros populations in Africa.

Kenya: Zoo and Tierpark Berlin support the training of rangers at Ol Jogi Conservancy, Kenya’s oldest and most successful wildlife sanctuary. And that training is really paying off: Ol Jogi has lost none of its rhinos to poachers since March 2015. The rangers are taught how to handle weapons, read maps, use GPS, and manage ground-to-air communications and coordination. They are also given basic and advanced first aid training, a skill that has already enabled them to save several lives. And yet the threat posed by the rhino mafia remains high.