Neocolonial Conservation: Is Moving Rhinos to Australia Conservation or Intellectual Property Loss

Matt W Hayward, William J. Ripple, Graham I H Kerley, Marietjie Landman, Roan D. Plotz, Stephen T. Garnett

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The Australian Rhino Project ( proposes importing 80 rhinos from South Africa to Australia by 2019 at a cost of over $US4 million, with the first six due to have been moved in 2016. This project has high-profile supporters in the private sector, zoos, and both governments, and is gaining major publicity through association with sporting teams and TedEx talks ( However, establishing extralimital populations of African rhinos is a very low-priority conservation action, particularly given over 800 are already in captivity, and we argue this project diverts funds and expertise away from more important conservation activities; the proposed captive conditions will lead to selection for domestic traits; the most likely species involved is the white rhino, which is the lowest priority rhino species for conservation; it removes a driver of in situ conservation; it does not focus on the critically endangered Asian rhino species; and it extends the historical exploitation of Africa's resources by colonial powers. There are also insufficient details in the public domain about the project for objective decision-making. We believe this is misdirected neocolonial conservation and the policy support from both governments for this project should be reconsidered.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12354
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalConservation Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018


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