Making A Difference With Bowling For Rhinos
National Coordinator, AAZK’s Bowling For Rhinos
The American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK) “Bowling For Rhinos” (BFR) fund-raiser has raised over $1,740,000 since 1990 entirely through volunteer efforts. It is the hard work and dedication of these volunteers that will make the difference in wildlife conservation efforts. 100% of all donated funds go directly to three rhino conservation organizations. The first is Lewa Wildlife Conservancy (LWC) in Kenya, which has grown to 55,000 acres protected with a 2-meter tall electric fence that is home to 33 black and 33 white rhino (3/23/03). In 1994, AAZK expanded its funding efforts to include Ujung Kulon National Park in Java, Indonesia which is home to the last 47 Javan rhinos on earth (with a few recently discovered in Viet Nam). AAZK expanded its funding efforts once again in 1997 to include Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park (BBS) in Sumatra, Indonesia where one of the largest populations of Sumatran rhinos live. There is now an Indonesian Rhino Conservation Program that includes all parks with rhino populations and BFR has become part of this program. All these efforts also protect unique ecosystems enabling the
conservation of hundreds of endangered plants and animals.
Some Docents may have never heard of BFR and others may be key figures in all aspects of the event. Much depends on the zoo location. For the benefit of those who have never heard of BFR, I will explain. AAZK realized that the zoo keepers of the world were extremely conservation oriented and wanted to help save Rhinos and their habitats, yet did not have the financial resources themselves to make any significant impact. That’s when the idea came to start a National bowl-a-thon called Bowling For Rhinos back in 1989 in Kansas City.
BFR became an AAZK sponsored event in 1990. From day one, many AAZK chapter worked closely with zoo Docents to organize the event, advertise the event, solicit for door prizes and donations, work at the event or join in the fun and bowl at the event. The beauty of the BFR idea is that these fundraisers are organized by volunteers, who donate their time and organizational skills to help raise money to send directly to the places in need. Since all the people involved are volunteers, 100% of all donations are sent directly to 3 Rhino Conservation Areas!
Many organizations participate in these events, and have added the Rocking For Rhinos, Rummage For Rhinos, and Recycling For Rhinos projects as other ways to raise funds for this very worthwhile project. Contact your local zoo’s American Association of Zoo Keepers Chapter for more information about an event in your area. If there is not an event in your area, I challenge you to contact your AAZK chapter and ask if they would hold an event with AZAD’s help.
Portland AAZK chapter (Oregon Zoo) has been the most successful chapter raising money for BFR with over $143,000 raised since 1990. Portland AAZK chapter gives credit to their success to the extreme amount of help
they recieve from their Docents who are key players in all aspects of their event!
Making a Difference
In the 1980’s it was predicted that rhinos and elephant would be extinct by the year 2000 due to poaching. The black rhino population numbered about 100,000 in 1960 but remains around 2,600 today. The number of
elephants in Africa is half what it was 40 years ago. It is true that the Black rhino numbers have plummeted. However, just the fact that these numbers are not zero is only because of dedicated conservationists who had to
literally resort to armed camps to protect the remaining numbers of these species. The southern white rhino made a comeback from 20 animals in 1913 to 10,400 today.
There are now about 550,000 elephants in Africa. The largest herd, estimated at 60,000, moves among 5 countries. Indonesia’s rhino population plummeted 50% in a matter of 5 years. Only after the onset of the very
intensive and specially trained rhino patrol units has the population held steady. The International Rhino Foundation, US Fish & Wildlife Tiger and Rhino Conservation Fund, World Wildlife Fund, and AAZK are the main contributors to the Rhino Patrol Unit (RPU) program.
Without conservation organizations like AAZK with the help of AZAD members, these animals would surely be extinct today. I hope you will rejoice in knowing these magnificent animals who have walked on earth for millions of years are still thriving. It is in our hands to continue this work to protect these animals and have their populations return to reasonable sizes. We have made a difference and will continue to do so.
***Bowling For Rhinos is not only about saving rhinos. We save rhino habitat so we are saving everything from orchids to elephants! Lewa has the second largest population of elephant in Kenya and 25% of the world’s
Grevy zebra population.***
Use of Bowling For Rhinos Funds
100% of all funds raised are sent directly to 3 Rhino conservation projects conserving four species of Rhino, their habitats, and hundreds of other endangered plants and animals. BFR helps preserve the Black and White Rhino in Africa and the Javan and Sumatran Rhino in Indonesia. The first $100,000 raised each year goes to the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy with the remainder split between Ujung Kulon National Park and Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park.
Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Isiolo, Kenya
The money AAZK raised with BFR was used to complete the Ngare Sergoi rhino sanctuary fence, fence in the Ngare Ndare Forest Preserve, purchase a plane and a Lorry (truck used to transport animals), fence off the two remaining boundaries and increase security. The old existing fence between the rhino sanctuary and the Ngare Ndare forest area was then removed. This created a 55,000 acre haven where everything from orchids to elephants could flourish. This allows the animals to migrate between the rhino sanctuary and the lush forest area – which is extremely important during times of drought. There are 145,000 acres under common wildlife policy but only 55,000 acres are enclosed by the fence with an area open at the north end to allow for the migration of elephant in and out of the sanctuary. Starting in 1994, BFR funds were used to help provide the operating costs of this successful rhino sanctuary.
The annual operating cost of the sanctuary is over $850,000 with 170 guards protecting the area. Anna Merz, AAZK’s BFR funds, and private donations combine together to fund the operating costs. Operating costs include funding the security staff for the sanctuary and the wildlife, maintenance for the fence, vehicles and plane, and research staff to provide information such as carrying capacity determinations and fire burning regimes. By supplying operating costs, AAZK makes it easier for Lewa to solicit private donations to provide funding for special projects. Future plans include relocation of reticulated giraffe, common zebra, and other wildlife to restock depleted neighboring wildlife areas, and increasing the number of security patrols and vehicles. Fuzz Dyer, head of security for LWC since 1983 has moved back to his family ranch, Borona, which borders LWC. He plans to implement the same aims and principles of LWC at Borana, with the ultimate objective being to remove the fence between the two properties allowing for free movement of wildlife. If the plan works, it will create the largest conservation area made up of private and community owned land in Kenya and would create 300,000 acres for wildlife.
For additional information see the Lewa website at http://www.lewa.org.
Javan and Sumatran Rhinos
The two kinds of rhinoceros in south east Asia are the most endangered of the five surviving rhino species. There are fewer than 100 Javan rhino – about 50 in Ujung Kulon and another 20 in Cat Loc Vietnam. The Sumatran rhino is considered the most critically endangered species of rhino by the IUCN/SSC Asian Rhino Specialist Group (AsRSG). Fewer than 300 are estimated to survive worldwide. Although not as rare as the Javan rhino, poaching pressure is more intense on the Sumatran rhino whose population declined at least 50% from 1990-1995. BFR supports two National Parks in Indonesia which protect the Javan and Sumatran Rhinos. If it had not been for the support from IRF, US Fish and Wildlife Service Tiger and Rhino Conservation Fund, WWF and AAZK with help from AZAD over the past 10 years, the Sumatran and Javan rhinos would surely have perished. We must now look to the future to maintain and increase the populations to respectable sizes.
Ujung Kulon National Park, Java, Indonesia
Ujung Kulon is a 300 square mile National Park that is home to some of the rarest plants and animals on earth. It is one of the last remaining lowland rainforests in the world with hundreds of endangered plants and animals
including the Javan rhino. The annual running cost of Ujung Kulon is a roughly $100,000. In the past, funds where used to purchase such items as a well, pump and water tower at the Karangranjang guard post, the completion of a new patrol boat, camera units for photo trapping census of the Javan rhino, installation and maintenance of the cameras, training staff for trapping census and preparation of photo inventory of field data, 32 hand – held radios, radar unit for night patrol boat and trained a “Rhino Patrol Unit” (RPU). These are very intensive, specially trained anti-poaching units of 5 men. These RPUS are the only proven method to effectively conserve these tropical forest rhinos. There are currently 3 RPUs operating in Ujung Kulon. Future support will continue the census work over the next couple years, train and support the continued use of RPUs to protect wildlife, and pay for maintenance of existing buildings and equipment.
The photo-trapping census work in Ujung Kulon is now 90% complete. 37 Javan rhinos have been individually identified. They expect the total to be 45-52 animals. No poaching has occured in Ujung Kulon over the last 18 months.
Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, Sumatra, Indonesia
Half of the monies over $100,000 raised each year from BFR will go to Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park (BBSNP) which is believed to have one of the largest populations of Sumatran rhinos. This is a 3,568
square km protected area on the southwest side of the island of Sumatra. Asian elephant, tiger, clouded leopard, Malayan sun bear, Indian wild dog, and a substantial number of the estimated 300 Sumatran rhinos live within
For the m ost part, all necessary equipment and training for RPUs have been provided by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), (US Fish and Wildlife Rhino and Tiger Conservation Fund) USFWS RTCF, and International Rhino Foundation / IUCN Asian Rhino Specialist Group (IRF/ AsRSG). Adequate patrol shelters already exist in the Park for the patrol work of RPUs. What is needed at BBSNP for rhino conservation is operational funds for the RPUs. The operational cost for each RPU is currently $17,000/year. BFR money will be used in this way for the next few years.
There are currently 6 RPU’s (of 4 man teams) operating in Bukit Barisan and two additional Tiger Patrol Units (TPU). The poaching pressure in Indonesia is more intense than ever. Two rhinos were poached in 2002 in BBS. It is believed inside information was leaked to poachers by a Wildlife Conservation Society survey team. Information on RPU routes and patrol times was given to poachers. It is now high priority to ensure no further leaks occur. More vehicles for the RPUs are currently the top priority item. The RPUs are vital to the survival of Indonesia’s rhinos and other wildlife.
There is now an Indonesian Rhino Conservation program (IRCP) that includes all parks with rhino populations. This program will allow funding to be used on top priority needs in top priority locations to conserve wildlife.
BFR is now part of this program. This allows unused funding in any given year to go through IRCP to be reallocated to these top priority locations. This will allow BFR to expand funding to include such places as Way Kambas (Eastern Sumatra) that has a large population of Sumatran rhinos. The unexpended funds from this year at Ujung kulon will now be used to establish 2 more anti-poaching teams in Way Kambas and assist with the poaching situation in Bukit Barisan.
*Anyone can join the Bowl-a-thon so don’t limit yourselves to only zoo people. However, be sure it is clear that only National AAZK members are allowed to win the trip. If you are a potential winner, ask to join AAZK.