Animal related

The International Rhino Foundation

Ensuring that rhinos survive through conservation and reasearch

aka Rhino Foundation

Fort Worth, TX


The International Rhino Foundation is dedicated to the survival of the world's rhino species through conservation and research. At the heart of IRF's vision is the belief that these magnificent species should endure for future generations, and that protecting rhinos ensures that many other species that share their habitat also survive, including people.

Ruling Year


Principal Officer

Dr. Susie Ellis

Main Address

201 Main Street, Suite 2600

Fort Worth, TX 76102 USA


rhino, wildlife, conservation, animals, anti-poaching





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Protection of Endangered Species (D31)

Wildlife Preservation/Protection (D30)

Protection of Endangered Species (D31)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs + Results

What we aim to solve New!

The International Rhino Foundation strives to ensure that all five imperiled rhino species survive in nature. Each of the species faces different problems. In Africa, black and white rhinos are under severe poaching pressure; in India, while poaching pressure is present, the loss of suitable habitat to rapid conversion by the burgeoning human population is one of the biggest threats. And for Javan and Sumatran rhinos in Indonesia, the species' last stronghold, poaching is a threat but moreso, small population effects such as the inability to meet up with mates because of habitat fragmentation, habitat loss, and lack of political will are the major threats. Javan and Sumatran are easily the most threatened large mammals on Earth - with 63 and fewer than 100 individuals remaining, respectively. The challenges facing rhinos have never been greater. The IRF never shies away from a problem, maintaining a long-term, hard-working presence in some of the most difficult places on Earth.

Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Zimbabwe Lowveld Rhino Program

Sumatran Rhino Conservation Program

Javan Rhino Conservation Program

Indian Rhino Vision 2020

Southern African Rhino Conservation Program

Where we workNew!

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Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have and haven't they accomplished so far?

IRF aims to ensure that the world's five rhino species will survive through conservation and research. IRF protects particularly threatened rhino populations and their habitats in the wild, while also supporting management and applied research that can help improve the chances for rhinos' long-term survival. IRF's current major programs include: (1) Indonesia: 25 Rhino Protection Units patrolling and protecting critically endangered Sumatran rhinos in Way Kambas and Bukit Barisan Selatan National Parks (Sumatran rhino), and Javan rhinos in Ujung Kulon National Parks; co-managing and funding the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (a propagation and research center where two calves have been born since 2012), and the Javan Rhino Study and Conservation Area (aimed at expanding the useable habitat in Ujung Kulon National Park); (2) India: Indian Rhino Vision 2020, aimed at increasing the population of greater one-horned rhinos in the Indian State of Assam to 3,000 by 2020; (3) Zimbabwe: Lowveld Rhino Conservation Program focusing on protecting and managing the fourth largest population of black rhino in Africa; (4) Southern Africa: Operation Stop Poaching Now, supporting security and anti-poaching efforts in key areas in southern Africa. IRF also supports scientific research, providing grants for work that is directly applicable to management, propagation, and conservation of rhino species in nature and in breeding centers; (5) providing funding for important scientific research that will improve our ability to manage and understand wild populations of rhino, thus securing their future.

(1) Indonesia: operation of 4-man rhino protection units in Way Kambas (9 teams), Bukit Barisan Selatan (11 teams) and Ujung Kulon (5 teams) National Parks; providing grant funding to rhino organizations in northern Sumatra to operate anti-poaching units in Gunung Leuser National Park; co-managing and funding the only captive breeding center for Sumatran rhinos as part of a meta-population management strategy for the species; public education; training farmers in local communities in sustainable agriculture. (2) India - as a partner in Indian Rhino Vision 2020, we are restoring Indian rhino populations in two parks where they were extirpated during civil conflict in the early 2000s. A population of ~38 rhinos has been re-established in Manas National Park through translocations from other parks. (3) Zimbabwe - Our partner and grantee, the Lowveld Rhino Trust (LRT) provides hands-on rhino protection and management in Save and Bubye Valley Conservancies, and management support in Malilangwe Conservancy. The LRT tracks individual animals to ensure that the rhino population is secure and growing. Activities also include snare or bullet wound treatment, placing tracking transmitters, de-horning to discourage poaching, and ear notching, which allows for individual rhino identification. The LRT also rescues orphans whose mothers have been killed by poachers; calves are hand-reared and returned to the wild.. To decrease poaching pressure, the LRT has created a community incentive program to encourage local communities to actively participate in rhino protection. Communities surrounding the Bubye and Save Valley Conservancies receive benefits linked to the rate of rhino population growth. In 2016, the LRT constructed a pre-fabricated community hall for the Mlelezi community. As part of its “Rhinos for Schools" program, LRT worked with 54 primary schools around Bubye Valley and 91 schools around Save Valley, delivering over175,000 exercise books and 2,500 science textbooks, and hosting talks, film shows, and rhino quiz competitions. (4) OPERATION: Stop Poaching Now. Driven by demand from growing markets in Vietnam and China, the poaching crisis in Africa is growing. Well-equipped, highly-organized, and dangerous poaching networks killed at least 1,160 African rhinos in 2016. Since 2010, IRF has provided grant funding for targeted projects to mitigate rhino poaching in the highest-priority locations in southern Africa. These interventions include equipping and training rangers for rhino protection, equipping reserves with secure digital communication systems, working to strengthen relationships with local communities by hiring community members as guards, and trying to stem demand for rhino horn in consumer countries. (5) Research funding. The IRF regularly puts out a request for proposals for scientific studies to answer key questions to improve our ability to manage wild and captive rhino populations. Since 2007, we have provided ~$700,000 in funds.

The IRF has a 25-year track record of managing and funding critical rhino conservation programs in Africa and Asia. Since 1991, we have protected and conserved rhinos in areas where they are most in need of attention and where
conservation resources will have the greatest impact. We do this by maintaining a hard-working presence in rhino range countries, and by partnering with like-minded organizations to meet our mutual goals. Our small, US-based staff
works hard to make sure that every donation counts, with more than 92 percent of contributions going directly to field programs in 2016. In addition to fiscal responsibility, IRF's core values - hard work, optimism, partnership,
and passion - are at the heart of everything we do. IRF's Board of Directors includes noted rhino experts from around the globe, and its staff is well-respected and serves a leadership role in rhino conservation internationally. The organization's Executive Director is a member of the IUCN African and Asian Rhino Specialist Groups and serves as the IUCN Red List Authority for the latter; IRF's Asian Rhino Coordinator chairs the Asian Rhino Specialist Group and our Indonesia Coordinator is a member; IRF's senior staff in Zimbabwe are key players in the African Rhino Specialist Group and the Southern African Development Community, which includes a leadership role in developing and implementing not only Zimbabwe's National Rhino Strategy but also the SADC Rhino Management Plan.

We know we are making progress saving rhinos by the populaiton trends and numbers we see as a result of our work. We also know we are making progress by measuring the improvements our programs and partners are making as a contribution to rhino conservation. We are making progress if we are meeting our organization's fundraising goals in order to deploy funds to the field, and to operate with the agility to rapidly direct funds to the field as emergencies occur.

There has been a myriad of challenges over the past 25 years, and the International Rhino Foundation has a prov track record on two continents. We've established new greater-one horned rhino population in Manas National
Park in India, as well as a new black rhino population in Botswana's Okavango Delta. We saw the demise of the last wild population of Northern white rhino in Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where despite investments of millions of dollars, we had to pull out when the volatile political situation made it unsafe for our staff to work there. Sadly, the northern
white rhino subspecies is now down to <3 animals, and is functionally extinct. We firmly believe in maximizing options and minimizing future regrets for all rhinos. We need to tackle the challenges using multi-faceted approaches, including basics like 'boots on the ground' protection along with 'high tech' science. There is no easy answer – and, we can never let what transpired with the northern white rhino happen again. We've made tremendous strides in Indonesia, where IRF-funded Rhino Protection Units continue to safeguard the last populations of Sumatran rhino. in 2016, we celebrated the birth of the second calf at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary. Beginning in 2007, we began consolidating the US and Sumatran population in Indonesia, which has paid off with the birth of these calves. While two births can't save the species, its two more critically endangered Sumatran rhinos added to the <100 left on Earth. The Javan rhino population appears to have stabilized at around 60 animals. We've created roughly 100 new hectares of rhino-friendly habitat in the Javan Rhino Study and Conservation Area that previously was unusable, and purchased camera traps that allow us to document the use of that area and the rest of the park by Javan rhinos. We now have the best data for this species that has ever been in hand. In Africa, Zimbabwe's Lowveld has moved from holding 4 percent of the country's black rhinos in the early 1980s to holding 90 percent today. In addition to providing long-term core support to the Lowveld Rhino Trust, OPERATION: Stop Poaching Now has distributed more than $750,000 to fund anti-poaching activities in areas holding significant rhino populations in southern Africa since 2011. Every dollar we raise allows us to do more to support the brave men and women on the front lines of the poaching wars. Despite challenges, rhinos are better off in the areas where the IRF works than they would be without our presence. Over our 25 years, one message rings clear. We can't do it alone. Working with like-minded, fiercely-committed people and organizations to meet the challenges can't be overemphasized. As we look ahead, our success will come because of our firm commitment - and that of our partners and donors - to do what it takes, based on sound science and management principles, to ensure these magnificent species endure for future generations.

External Reviews



The International Rhino Foundation

Fiscal year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Board Leadership Practices

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SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?

Not Applicable


Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?

Not Applicable


Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?

Not Applicable

Organizational Demographics

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Sexual Orientation

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Diversity Strategies

We track retention of staff, board, and volunteers across demographic categories
We track income levels of staff, senior staff, and board across demographic categories
We track the age of staff, senior staff, and board
We track the diversity of vendors (e.g., consultants, professional service firms)
We have a diversity committee in place
We have a diversity manager in place
We have a diversity plan
We use other methods to support diversity