TCU Rhino Initiative charges forward to stop poaching


Dr. Mike Slattery was awarded a $25,000 grant in 2013 to start the TCU Rhino initiative.

The TCU Rhino Initiative is raising awareness for rhinoceros poaching in Africa by organizing a 5k walk/run.

Dr. Will Fowlds, a South African wildlife veterinarian and rhino conservationist, gave a lecture on Wednesday about record-high rhino poaching in Africa.

“Statistically, we are now losing over a thousand rhinos a year,” Fowlds said. “It’s so important for us to know that there are people on the other side of the world that care.”

Dr. Michael Slattery, director of the Institute for Environmental Studies, launched the Rhino Initiative in 2014 as part of TCU’s Global Innovator program.

“Even though it seems like [rhino poaching] is a problem in another country so far away and we’re not touched by it, it is a global problem,” Slattery said. “If we lose this species, then what’s the next species?”

Slattery and Fowlds took 15 TCU students on a study abroad trip to South Africa last summer as part of a wildlife conservation course.

Students in attendance on the trip were able to watch Fowlds perform surgeries and procedures on both rhinos and wildebeests.

“Personally, it was the most meaningful thing I’ve ever done at TCU,” Slattery said. “I’m a big believer in study abroad and immersive experiences, and to be able to do that in my home country with Horned Frogs was pretty special.”

The first annual Rhino Run will take place on March 20, 2016.

Katie Smith and Jimmy Greene, environmental science majors and organizers of the 5k, said they hope the run will help bring awareness to the cause.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for TCU students and the community to see the negative impacts that are taking place,” said Greene. “But also, learn about some of the individuals who are taking positive initiatives to make a change.”

Smith said proceeds from the walk will provide a fundraising opportunity for rhino surgeries.

Slattery said his goal is to raise $10,000, but every cent would make a difference.

“I think it costs $4 to give a rhino an injection when they’re being treated during surgery,” he said. “So it may not sound like a lot to donate $30, but that actually would take care of one surgical procedure’s antibiotic treatment.”

The Rhino Run will take place on March 20 at 8:30 a.m. Children can also participate in a 1K run/walk.

Winners of the 5K will receive hand-made medals from South Africa, and all children will get a Rhino Force bracelet.

To sign up for the Rhino Run, click here.