Rhino Fund Uganda
Zoos Victoria is delighted to announce a new conservation partnership, with Rhino Fund Uganda in central Uganda, to protect and eventually reestablish White Rhinos in the wild in Uganda in partnership with local communities.
Rhino Fund Uganda (RFU) has management responsibility for the 7,000ha Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Nakitoma Sub-county, 170km north of Kampala. With a clear vision and integration of wildlife conservation goals, community wellbeing and social development needs, Rhino Fund Uganda is an ideal conservation partner for Zoos Victoria in Africa. The new partnership is also an excellent platform to tell stories of the White Rhinos at the Ziwa Sanctuary and their conservation significance for White Rhinos through the same iconic species at Werribee Open Range Zoo.
Rhino Fund Uganda rangers
The Rhino Fund Uganda rangers are at the heart of rhino protection at the Ziwa Sanctuary, providing 24/7 care and monitoring of the rhinos, integrated patrols across the 7,000ha of bush and scrub, and close cooperation with the cattle farmers outside the Sanctuary. Such close and continuous observation of the family groups also allows collection of invaluable information on rhino behaviour, much of which has not been recorded previously and thereby greatly adding to our knowledge of these magnificent animals. Support for the rangers is an important part of the ZV funding through our partnership.
Rhinos around the world are under severe pressure, in particular from illegal hunting for their horns. White and Black Rhinos in Africa are at great risk, with only about 20,000 and 5,000 remaining respectively. In Uganda, the last Northern White Rhino was killed in 1983. In a plan endorsed by the Ugandan Government and rhino experts, Rhino Fund Uganda plans to reestablish rhinos in the wild in Uganda, using the very closely-related Southern White Rhino. The breeding group at the Ziwa Sanctuary, 18 rhinos with 12 born at the Sanctuary, is a very positive step towards the eventual goal.
A critically important component of Rhino Fund Uganda’s community relations is an amazing partnership with the cattle farming communities around the Ziwa Sanctuary. Each day farmers bring their cattle into the Sanctuary for grazing and water, increasing the volume of milk and quality of meat. The cattle eat the long grass down to a height that is suitable for the rhinos. These important benefits to people and rhinos underpins a very positive relationship, with the surrounding communities acting as the first line of security against the risk of intrusion by poachers and hunters.
What started as an initiative to increase wellbeing of Rhino Fund Uganda rangers, through providing education for their very young children at the Hakuna Matata (“no worries”) pre-school at the Ziwa Sanctuary, has now become an important learning opportunity for children from the surrounding community who would otherwise not have access to education. Zoos Victoria has a long history of delivering education outcomes focused on conservation and we look forward to sharing our education skills and passion with the teachers at Rhino Fund Uganda and schools in surrounding villages.