This year’s theme is #KeepTheFiveAlive and we’re doing our bit to achieve just that with our two incredible conservation partners. These are the Lowveld Rhino Trust, who protect both black and white rhino species in Zimbabwe, and the Sumatran Rhino Survival Alliance who are working to save Indonesia’s critically endangered Sumatran rhino.

Zimbabwe is home to 90% of the world’s black rhino population and the Lowveld Rhino Trust (who we’ve supported for over 13 years) is working to secure the future of all rhino here -  through monitoring to ensure their on-going health, treating rhino with poaching-related injuries, assisting authorities with prosecuting poachers and translocating rhinos from high-risk areas to safer locations.

This is female black rhino Floppy. She gets her name from her right ear which hangs down, the result of a wire snare injury she suffered when she was just four years of age. In 2005 LRT were able to rescue her and now we’re pleased to report that she’s given birth to her seventh healthy calf. There are currently 190 wild black rhinos in this area and our partners report another 10 births are expected by the end of 2020!

“Over the past 12 months, we’ve had 25 black rhino births, bringing the population back into positive growth after five years of decline under heavy poaching pressure,” says LRT Rhino Monitoring Coordinator, Nastasha Anderson. “Some of the hand-raised orphans of poaching are now back out in the wild having their own calves and contributing to the recovery of rhinos in Zimbabwe.”


Meet our four-week-old rhino calf Nyah!

Ungulates keeper Gemma introduces the youngest member of our Southern white rhino herd

In the past year, Auckland Zoo has been helping fund critical DNA processing for black rhino samples collected by LRT to help evaluate the impacts of things like dehorning, translocations, and regrettably, poaching. LRT has the largest database of demographic records of free-ranging black rhinos that has ever been collected, and this work allows them to compare genetic information alongside the demographics to further understand, and respond to, rhino conservation issues.

More recently we’ve become a strategic partner of the Sumatran Rhino Survival Alliance in Indonesia - an amazing project working to boost Sumatran rhino numbers in the wild through a captive breeding programme. The population currently sits at less than 80 individuals as poaching and habitat loss – including forest destruction for palm oil and paper pulp – have wreaked havoc on the species.  We’ll be sharing more about this important partnership soon!

Every time you visit our rhinoceros whānau you’re helping to support rhino conservation in Africa and Asia. Precious five-week-old white rhino calf Nyah is out for short stints in the African Savannah so you may be lucky enough to see her on your next zoo visit!