Expanding the Mkomazi Rhino Sanctuary

Black Rhinos in the Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. Creative Commons: Julian Mason, 2008.

The expansion of the Mkomazi Rhino Sanctuary in Tanzania Africa will provide protected habitat for the critically endangered Black Rhino.

The rhino population of Africa has been reduced by 96% in the past 50 years. As recently as 1970, the estimated population of black rhino in Tanzania stood at 22,000. By 1990, that number had fallen to just 25 rhinos. This species has been driven to the brink of extinction by poaching for its horn, a highly valued material in many Asian cultures for its use in traditional medicine.

Over the past 20-years, this black rhino protection and breeding program led by Tony Fitzjohn, along with many local and governmental partners, has had great success protecting and increasing the numbers of black rhinos. Now an expanded population of this magnificent species is thriving in Mkomazi along with many other animals including African wild dogs, Elephants, and Lions. Though the project has brought back a ray of hope for the Black Rhino, their situation is still dire as the demand for their horns increases and poaching becomes more rampant and deadly.

The poaching crisis and near extinction of the black rhino in Tanzania can only be reversed through a multifaceted effort involving the Tanzanian people, government and the Tanzanian National Park authority. Though this one project cannot change the demand for rhino horn, it can securely breed the species to increase their numbers, as well as educate and change attitudes and behaviors of the people of Tanzania who are becoming increasingly impoverished as their key wildlife species, and therefore their tourism, continues to diminish. LDF will support their efforts to more than double the number of rhinos in the sanctuary, enabling the organization to provide rhinos to other sanctuaries in Tanzania National Parks. Additionally, this project will support the expansion of the sanctuary by 100% and provide critical protection measures.

Through collaborative partnerships, we support innovative projects that protect vulnerable wildlife from extinction, while restoring balance to threatened ecosystems and communities. Our work is divided into six main program areas – Wildlands Conservation, Oceans Conservation, Climate Change, Indigenous Rights, Transforming California, and Innovative Solutions.

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