Each year the American Association of Zoo keepers (AAZK) sponsors a fund raising bowl-a-thon called “Bowling For Rhinos” (BFR). Over 80 AAZK chapters participate throughout the US and Canada raising over $500,000 annually. BFR funds support LWC- Lewa Wildlife Conservancy (formerly called Ngare Sergoi rhino sanctuary) in Kenya, Ujung Kulon National Park in Java, Indonesia and Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park (BBSNP) and Way Kambas in Sumatra, as wells as Action for Cheetahs in Kenya, which shares a portion of the land mass with LWC. These sanctuaries not only save rhinos (and cheetahs) but also entire ecosystems – orchids to elephants!
Why save Rhinos?
Rhinos have lived on earth for over 50 million years but whether they survive even 50 more years is open to speculation. Only 5 species of rhino exist today when once there were over 100 species. All 5 species- the white, black, greater one-horned, Sumatran and Javan are endangered. Only the white rhino with a population of 4,600 seems to be somewhat safe from extinction. In 1960, 60,000 black rhinos roamed Africa. Today only 2,500 remain in isolated populations. On the Asian continent, the greater one-horned population remains at 2,000. The Sumatran species numbers around 200 and the Javan species has fewer than 60 animals.
The black rhino is a symbol of conservation in Africa as our bald eagle is to those of us in the United States. If the black rhino were to go extinct what message would we give our children? The rhino is a large, flagship species. By striving to save the rhino, we save large expanses of habitat. By saving these habitats, we are saving many endangered species, not just the rhino.