The International Rhino Foundation (IRF) is dedicated to the survival of all rhino species through conservation and research. At the heart of our vision is the belief that these magnificent species should endure for future generations.
Throughout its 23-year history, the IRF has supported and helped to manage conservation programs targeting the most threatened rhino species in Africa and Asia. Their programs have provided benefits for the other species and the ecosystem within the rhino’s range. The IRF also ensures that local communities participate and benefit from conserving the rhinos.
The IRF, together with the Rhino Foundation of Indonesia, operates a comprehensive program aimed at protecting and increasing the wild population of Javan rhinos, which live only in Ujung Kulon National Park.
We also operate a comprehensive program aimed at protecting and increasing the wild populations of Sumatran rhinos in Indonesia.
ASAP Species That We Work On
What We Do
IRF supports conservation of the Javan Rhino through active protection, monitoring, and habitat management, and supports the conservation of the Sumatran Rhino through protection, research, and managed breeding.
In Indonesia’s Ujung Kulon National Park, the IRF funds four Rhino Protection Units (RPUs), highly-trained four-person anti-poaching teams that patrol key areas within the national park. The RPU’s objective is to prevent poaching of rhinos and other wildlife, as well as illegal activities within the park to protect the Javan rhino from extinction. The RPUs have kept the Javan rhino population safe from poaching for the past 16 years.
Creating more suitable habitats – Javan Rhino Study and Conservation Area (JRSCA)
Understanding that protection alone is insufficient to save the species, IRF, in collaboration with many other conservation organisations, has been working to expand the useable habitat for Javan rhinos. Under this project, along with the Ujung Kulon National Park authorities, the IRF has developed a 5000 hectare Javan Rhino Study and Conservation Area (JRSCA), an area previously overgrown with an invasive palm species. By clearing the palm, more suitable habitat is being provided, which will allow the population to increase in the short-term.
In order to establish the JRSCA, the government of Indonesia relocated families living illegally within the park boundaries. Local workers, which include members of the relocated families, have participated in various job opportunities related to the construction and development of the JRCSA.
Habitat protection – Rhino Protection Units (RPU)
The IRF funds and operates several Rhino Protection Units (RPU), each consisting of highly-trained four-person anti-poaching teams that patrol key areas within two national parks: Bukit Barisan Selatan and Way Kambas.
The RPU’s main objective is to prevent poaching and habitat destruction to protect the Sumatran Rhino from extinction. They also monitor the rhino populations as well as other large mammals in the parks, such as the Sumatran tiger, Sumatran elephant, and Malayan tapir. As they patrol, RPUs also record standardized data such as rhino sightings, tracks, feeding, threats and illegal activities. Their work is aided by a law enforcement and advocacy program that facilitates the arrest and prosecution of any poachers caught within the nature parks.
The RPUs have seen great success, keeping all Sumatran rhinos safe from poaching in these two parks for more than 8 years.
In addition to protecting the animal itself, the RPUs have also protected the habitat by working with national park authorities and police to stop and even turning back encroachment in some areas of parks. RPUs work with local communities to develop alternative farming practices that boost incomes while discouraging encroachment within the national parks.
Research and Captive Breeding
With the Rhino Foundation of Indonesia, the IRF helps to manage the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary where five Sumatran Rhinos reside. The sanctuary seeks to increase our knowledge on the basic biology, ecology and behaviour of the Sumatran rhino to support the population in the wild.
The IRF also works together with about 60 zoos worldwide through the IRF’s Zoo Partners Program. Zoos under the Zoo Partners Program give support to the IRF for rhino protection efforts, reintroduction projects and managed breeding programs. In turn, the IRF provides these zoos with regular rhino updates, field project opportunities and more information and materials to support rhino conservation.
Where We Work
IRF puts its limited resources towards field programs in Asia and Africa targeting the rhino species most in need of and most appropriate for intensive protection and management.
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Featured image: Dedi Candra