Thirty five critically endangered Sumatran rhinos now have a better chance of survival after Perth Zoo donated $30,000 to an anti-poaching team in Indonesia.
There are now fewer than 100 Sumatran rhinos left in the wild due to poaching and loss of habitat.
The elusive animals live deep in the jungle and are the smallest rhino species.
Perth Zoo chief executive Susan Hunt said the plight of Sumatran rhinos was particularly shocking, prompting the zoo to donate to the Asian Rhino Project.
Project director Clare Campbell said the funding would go towards an anti-poaching team protecting Sumatran rhinos in Indonesia’s Way Kambas National Park.
Perth Zoo has two southern white rhinos – Memphis, aged 26 and weighing 2.2 tonnes, and his son Bakari, aged nine and weighing 2.4 tonnes.
Their species was also on the brink of extinction with about 100 left in the wild in 1895, before numbers were boosted to 20,000 in 2010 after a conservation push.
But rhinos are again in decline after a recent increase in poaching.
The South African government reported more than 1000 white rhinos were killed last year and a further 146 were slain in the first two months of this year.
“It’s quite a devastating loss and it is one of the most critically endangered large mammals that exist today, so we really are looking at potentially the dinosaur of our generation,” Ms Campbell said.
Poaching was on the rise again because there had been a surge in demand for rhino horns, Ms Campbell said.
“It’s now considered a hangover cure in some Asian countries, so they’re just appealing to the younger generation and finding any way that they can to sell rhino horns,” she said.
Ms Campbell said people should avoid buying wildlife products because they were supporting the trade.
Perth Zoo’s Wildlife Conservation Action fund raises about $300,000 each year and allocates money to different projects helping endangered wildlife around the world including sun bears, orangutans and numbats.