Rhino-Tiger Conservation Fund 2014

Total Number of Grants Awarded 44
Total Funds Distributed Through Grants $3,195,957
Total Partner Contributions Leveraged by Grants $5,469,019
Total Number of Countries that Received Program Support 16

Rhinos and tigers are big, powerful, and charismatic animals. Unfortunately, these same qualities make these magnificent creatures popular targets: rhinoceros horn, tiger pelts and body parts are in high demand on the global black market.

Five species of rhinos survive in Africa and Asia, but they are all under threat. Africa is home to the black rhino and white rhino, which are classified by the IUCN Redlist as critically endangered and near threatened, respectively. Asia is home to the greater one-horned rhino, which is classified as vulnerable, and the Javan and Sumatran rhinos, both of which are classified as critically endangered.

Since the colonial era, rhinos have gone extinct in 15 African countries. Black and white rhinos were hunted to precariously low numbers throughout Africa by the early 1960s and 1970s but ambitious anti-poaching campaigns and reintroduction programs allowed population increases and reintroduction to sites where they had gone extinct. By the end of 2013, there were approximately 5,000 black rhinos and 20,000 white rhinos in Africa.

White Rhino with calf. Credit: Michelle Gadd/USFWS

Credit: Michelle Gadd/USFWS

However, in the past five years, the poaching of rhinos for their horns has once again surged upwards in Africa. Rhino poaching has also shifted from opportunistic poaching done by locals to coordinated, targeted poaching commissioned by well-armed, well-equipped organized networks or syndicates. Less than a decade ago, South Africa, which has more than 80% of Africa’s rhinos, was losing about twenty rhinos a year to poaching. By 2014, the number of poached rhinos per year had skyrocketed to 1,215.

In Asia, the status of both rhinos and tigers is also bleak. Although there has been some conservation success with the greater one-horned rhino, which now numbers nearly 3,000 individuals, there are only about 100 Sumatran and 45 Javan rhinos left in the wild, primarily in Indonesia.

Once abundant throughout Asia, tigers now live in small fragmented groups and as few as 3,200 remain. We have lost approximately 97% of wild tigers in just over a century, and all six subspecies of tiger - the Sumatran, Amur, Bengal, Indochinese, South China and Malayan tiger - are now considered endangered or critically endangered according to the IUCN Redlist. In addition to the threat of illegal wildlife trafficking to meet demand for tiger skins, tiger bone wine, and other tiger-derived products, tigers are severely threatened by habitat loss.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Fund is working to restore rhino and tiger populations to healthy numbers in the wild. Since 1994, the Fund has supported groups engaged in successful conservation efforts. These include fighting poaching; managing habitats and ecosystems; establishing nature reserves; developing community conservation initiatives; managing human-wildlife conflict; and raising public awareness.

In 2014, the program provided funding to 44 projects in 16 countries totaling $3.1 million which was matched by an additional $5.4 million in leveraged funds. Project highlights include:

A tigress strolls through Tadoba National Park. Photo Credit: Harshawardhan Dhanwatey, Tiger Research and Conservation Trust

Credit: Harshawardhan Dhanwatey,
Tiger Research and Conservation Trust

  • Kenya: Reinforcing security for the black rhino population of the Chyulu Hills National Park
  • Nepal: Strengthening anti poaching activities through comunity engagement in the Barandabhar Corridor Forest Wildlife Reserve.
  • Thailand: Identifying expanded habitat for tigers in the Charloem Ratankosin National Park.
  • Zambia: Black rhino population monitoring and protection management operations in North Luangwa National Park.
  • Zimbabwe: Continued support for rhinoceros management operations.