Bowling for Rhinos !
written by Corinna of TheFrogBag
Extinction is forever.
But endangered means there’s still time!
That’s one of the slogans of the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK) annual event promoting rhino conservation in the wild. You may wonder what zookeepers do when they get together to save an entire family of endangered animals. Well, they do something they often aren’t terribly good at. They bowl!
This month marks my fourth outing as a rhino bowler. You can guess how good I am by the fact that I only bowl once a year. And then there’s the fact that I bowl on Team Low Expectations. But that’s okay. This year we are being joined by Team Lower Expectations. Don’t be fooled by the names though! We have low expectations for our bowling scores, not for rhino conservation.
All five species of rhinos are endangered, three of them critically so. Time really is running out. In 1990 the AAZK realized that zookeepers were particularly worried by the plight of rhinos in the wild, yet lacked the financial resources to do much about it. Thus, the rhino bowl-a-thon was born.
It’s a fundraiser hatched out of love for these amazing beasts, with fully 100% of the money raised going towards conservation in the wild. Every single organizer is a volunteer. And it’s working! $3,724,041 has been raised to date. Every year now brings in between $200,000 and $300,000… But our goal this year is $500,000.
Where exactly does the money go? All of it, every last penny, goes to in situ conservation programs. We support the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya, which protects both white and black rhinos. And the International Rhino Foundation, which aims to conserve the last of the Sumatran and Javan rhinos in Indonesia. There’s also Action for Cheetahs in Kenya. Why a cheetah organization, when the name of the event if Bowling for Rhinos? Cheetahs and rhinos share the same habitat in many cases. Conservation of one is conservation of the other…
... Which brings us to the heart of the matter. Rhinos are big critters. The world would be a much less interesting place without them. To survive, they need a lot of land. But of course, they aren’t the only animals that live on that land. Paying for park guards to protect rhinos also protects smaller animals, from gazelles to butterflies. Community outreach programs aimed at protecting rhinos give people options besides poaching, which help all native wildlife in the surrounding area.
Rhinos have been around for 50 million years. That may sound like plenty of time. Maybe their clock has just run out? Admittedly, it’s hard to tackle a problem as big as rhino conservation. Many people turn away, overwhelmed. But that’s not the answer.
The clock will not run out for rhinos, or any endangered animals, unless we let it. So get creative! Go bowling, support EFA, or just tell people about the causes you support. Every little bit helps. As for my family, we’ll be Bowling for Rhinos next week!