Markus Borner, Ph. D., one of six finalists for the 2012 Indianapolis Prize, works to protect rhinos, and it’s a good thing. At one point in history, rhinos were a diverse species with abundant numbers, but according to the International Rhino Foundation, there are now only five species of rhinos surviving and all put one of them is on the verge of extinction. So preserving these remaining rhino representatives is important work for Borner.
Borner, originally from Switzerland, is currently the head of the Africa Program of the Frankfurt Zoological Society in Tanzania. He began his career nearly 40 years ago when he dedicated his life to protecting endangered species and their habitats. He pioneered research on the Sumatran rhino and raised millions of dollars to support rhino rehabilitation projects. His efforts with rhinos culminated in the ongoing release of 32 black rhinos from South Africa back into their natural habitat, the Serengeti. This marks the world’s largest rhino reintroduction project.
“No living person has played as crucial a role as Markus Borner in African conservation,” states Dr. Andrew Dobson, professor at Princeton University. “His work on re-introducing rhinos to the Serengeti has helped restore all the species to East Africa’s savanna wilderness.”
Borner also played a pivotal role in preventing a proposed road that would split the Serengeti in two.
It is not only his passion and his drive for conservation that helped him become a finalist for the 2012 Indianapolis Prize, but also his understanding of the importance of working closely with local people and governments. Through all his efforts, he has had to work closely to build relationships with national authorities and governments on all levels – from park rangers to presidents. He has even established rhino conservation projects involving four different governments at the same time.
Markus Borner is a true conservation hero.