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The IRF believes that development of viable captive populations is vital to the success of rhino conservation. Protection in the wild is by far the optimal and preferred method for conserving rhinos. However, in situ conservation is fraught with difficulty and uncertainty. Hence, captive populations and programs are an insurance policy that should and can be part of a diversified strategy for rhino conservation that maximizes options and minimizes regrets.

The International Rhino Foundation's support of ex situ programs include:

  • Technical assistance for population management by the captive propagation programs (Species Survival Plans or SSPs) for rhino in North America.
  • Maintenance of Regional Studbooks for rhino in North America.

  • Maintenance of the International Studbook for Sumatran Rhino

  • Coordination of the Global Captive Programs (GCAP) for all rhino species.

  • Support of research directly applicable to management, propagation, and conservation of all rhino species.

Beyond support for applied research to enhance viability of captive populations, IRF provides many technical and coordinating services to the organized programs for management and propagation of rhinos in captivity. In North America, the scientific and coordinated propagation and management programs are known as the Species Survival Plan (SSP) and are managed through the AZA Rhino Taxon Advisory Group (Rhino TAG). The IRF Program Office provides the technical support for population management by the SSP and Rhino TAG. Programs analogous to the SSPs operate in other regions (e.g. the ASMP in Australasia and the EEP in Europe). IRF has facilitated exchanges of rhino and other cooperation between these regional programs.

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