Last year was a significant year of giving for the International Rhino Keeper Association! We started the year off by donating $14,000 to the International Rhino Foundation (IRF) to purchase field cameras placed in Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park to help locate the remaining Sumatran rhinos living in that area. An additional $10,000 was donated to IRF at the end of the year, to support habitat restoration in Way Kambas National Park, Indonesia. 2019 came to an unfortunate close for the restoration project in Way Kambas, with fires (often set by poachers to distract rangers or to drive wildlife out of the forests) decimating large areas of habitat crucial for Sumatran rhinos. When we inquired as to how the IRKA could support IRF’s Sumatran rhino conservation, the habitat restoration was the best place they could immediately put our funds to use. This restored habitat will provide more liveable space for wild Sumatran rhinos along with browse to be collected for the Sumatran rhinos living in the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS). The second donation of $10,000 was made possible by all of IRKA’s members and supporters who participated in the online auction from World Rhino Day, online t-shirt sales, and a generous donation from our friends at Horns and Heroes! Every shirt sold and auction item bid on helped make this possible!
With fewer than 80 Sumatran rhinos left, the habitat at Way Kambas is crucial to the rhino's survival. Experts estimate 15 or more Sumatran rhinos reside in the park, one of only two remaining populations large enough to sustain themselves by reproducing. The eventual goal of reintroducing additional rhinos into Way Kambas is only possible if more habitat is restored. There are two areas established by park officials as prime future habitat for Sumatran rhinos and other native wildlife.
IRKA’s donation is going towards one of the two sites, 25 hectares planted years ago with tropical forest vegetation. It was abandoned when funding for the site ran out. This area will now be re-planted as needed, with a minimum of 30 local families hired to grow seedlings. Local people with disabilities will be hired to plant the seedlings. Browse for SRS rhinos will be harvested in a sustainable manner, while local families are provided with incomes.
For the month of June, IRF is launching their public reforestation campaign. The goal is to raise funds to replant as many hectares as possible for future Sumatran rhino habitat. Let’s continue to show our support by helping IRF make this a successful campaign!
More information on the reforestation campaign from IRF. https://rhinos.org/reforestation/