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OKC Zoo Employee Awarded Trip to Indonesia for Rhino Conservation Fundraising

Posted by Tara Henson on 07/16/2013

CONSERVATION BLOG                                                                                July 16, 2013

 

OKC ZOO EMPLOYEE AWARDED TRIP TO INDONESIA FOR RHINO CONSERVATION FUNDRAISING

       An extreme rise in rhino poaching has created a vanishing wild rhino population around the world and the destruction of natural habitats. So what is a person to do? Go bowling, of course!

       Bowling For Rhinos (BFR) has become an annual, national fundraiser and one way the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK) is helping to combat the ongoing threat to critically endangered rhinos in Africa and Asia.  Endangered is a serious word, yet it also means there is still time to protect these gentle giants from the poachers who perpetuate the harvesting of the “valuable” rhino horn.

       For the past 23 years, approximately 60 AAZK chapters in the U.S. and Canada have supported the growing bowling event. To date, funds raised have exceeded $4.3 million with 100 percent of the proceeds directly benefiting rhinos in wildlife preserves in Kenya, Africa; and Java and Sumatra, Indonesia.  Only five species of rhino--black, white, Indian, Javan, and Sumatran--exist today, a sobering comparison to the 100 species that once roamed the Earth.

       Although thousands of miles away, this need gets a boost with each spare and strike at the local level. The Oklahoma City Zoo’s AAZK chapter has raised more than $257,000 in BFR events, making the local chapter one of the leading contributors to BFR’s global impact.

       So what’s a conservation-minded zoo keeper to do, whose BFR fundraising efforts helped the Oklahoma City Zoo chapter become so successful? Go to Indonesia, of course! And that is just what Logan Agan did.

       Each year, AAZK invites representatives from the top contributing chapters to get a first-hand glimpse of rhino sanctuary operations, namely Africa’s Lewa Wildlife Conservancy’s efforts to save the less than 100 critically endangered black, white and Indian rhinos, and 60,000 acres of rhino habitat in Kenya. Last year, however, Agan was invited to Indonesia to work side-by-side with anti-poaching units at the Ujung Kulon National Park in Java.

       “I am forever thankful for such an amazing opportunity to see how our efforts here in Oklahoma are directly impacting the success of these beautiful sanctuaries in Indonesia,” Agan said. “These sanctuaries not only save endangered rhinos but also their entire ecosystems! By helping to save the remaining rhinos from extinction, we are saving everything from orchids to elephants in some of the most unique ecosystems in the world.”

       Agan spent 10 days witnessing how BFR funds are used to save the 30 remaining Javan Rhinos, including translocating them into protected wildlife sanctuaries and parks, administering veterinary care, educating the community on conservation ideals, building fences to create barriers, purchasing planes and land rover vehicles to curtail poaching, purchasing trip cameras for monitoring, developing fire protection plans and paying salaries for anti-poaching security guards.

       “These guards risk their lives daily and are vital to protecting the rhinos and fighting against deforestation and encroachment,” Agan said. “They leave their families for weeks at a time and maneuver through treacherous terrain—all to ensure that the rhino and rhino habitats remain part of our future.”

       Along with the efforts in Kenya and Java, AAZK also supports efforts to save Sumatran rhinos in the Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park and Way Kambas in Sumatra. Here, recent breeding efforts have been successful and a baby rhino was born last year.

       “The beauty of the Bowling for Rhinos fundraisers is that volunteers donate their time and organizational skills to organize the events,” said Agan. “This allows us to send 100 percent of the funds raised directly to support in-situ (in the field) rhino conservation.”

       The Oklahoma City Zoo’s AAZK chapter will host its next event--the 19th annual Bowling for Rhinos--on Saturday, July 20, 2013, at 7 p.m. at Heritage Lanes near NW 122nd and North Pennsylvania in Oklahoma City. The cost is $25 per person, which includes shoe rental, three games of bowling, food, a T-shirt and exciting door prize opportunities.  To pre-register, call (405) 424-3344 or visit www.okczoo.com. Registrations the night of the event will be accepted. Teams and individuals are welcome to participate.

       If you do not wish to bowl but would like to support the cause, please make donations at www.bowlingforrhinosokc.com. For more information about Bowling for Rhinos and rhino conservation, visit www.aazkbfr.org.

 

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