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Published November 30, 2007 05:40 PM

International Rhino Foundation Auctions Rhino Poop for Holidays

YULEE, Fla. - We swear we're not making this up. For the first time in history you may find rhino poop under your Christmas tree. This year the International Rhino Foundation (IRF) is auctioning off endangered feces -- poop from endangered rhino species. It's all part of an effort to save one of Earth's most recognizable, but most threatened wild animals.

That's right, actual rhino poop will be an auction item on the popular Web site eBay. The rhino poop auction will begin Friday, November 30, 2007 and can be accessed by searching for "rhino poop" at www.eBay.com or by visiting www.endangeredfeces.org. 

"Everyone knows about rhinos, but not everyone knows that they are disappearing from the Earth," says International Rhino Foundation Executive Director Dr. Susie Ellis. "It might sound silly, but the money raised by the rhino poop auction will benefit conservation programs, raise awareness, and help us to save rhinos." 

Four separate pieces of rhino dung, representing the four species of rhino living in the United States, will be up for auction on eBay. The Javan Rhino, the only species not represented, is so rare that obtaining dung was not possible. The opening bid for each item will depend upon the rarity of the species. Below are the four species whose poop will be up for auction. 

-- White Rhino -- The White Rhino, along with the roughly equal-sizedIndian Rhino, is the largest species of land mammal after the elephant. As a species, the White Rhino is the least endangered of living rhinos with approximately 14,500 left. 

-- Black Rhino -- The Black Rhino has suffered the most drastic decline in total numbers of all rhino species. Between 1970 and 1992, the  population of this species decreased 96 percent. However, since 1996, the intense anti-poaching efforts have had encouraging results although  the threat of poaching remains great. Currently, approximately 3,725  are left.

-- Sumatran Rhino -- The Sumatran, a.k.a. the hairy rhino, is probably the most endangered of all rhinoceros species. Numbers have declined over 50 percent due to poaching over the last 15 years. It is only through ongoing protection that the situation is stabilizing; however, less  than 275 remain. 

-- Indian Rhino (also known as the Greater One Horned Rhino) -- The Indian  Rhino is one of the two greatest success stories in rhino conservation  (the other one being the Southern White Rhino in South Africa).  However, poaching has remained high and the success is precarious without continued and increased support for conservation efforts in  India and Nepal. Only 2,619 Indian Rhinos remain.

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Other rhino-friendly holiday gift ideas include the Adopt-a-Rhino Program that is accessible at www.rhinos-irf.org. This program allows individuals to make donations that will support a Sumatran rhino of their choice. For $30, donors can support the care and feeding of rhinos Andalas, Bina, Torgamba, Ratu or Rosa for 2 days; $60 will double the time to 4 days. The donation also ensures veterinary care for your rhino. 

The International Rhino Foundation has a 14-year track record of working to ensure the survival of the world's rhino species through conservation and research. The International Rhino Foundation operates programs both in Africa and Asia, focusing in areas where rhinos are in the most dire need of attention and where conservation will have its most significant impact. 

For fact sheets about the rhino dung auction, rhinos or the International Rhino Foundation and for more information on the Adopt-a-Rhino Program and how you can help to save rhinos from extinction please visit www.rhinos-irf.org. 

Source: International Rhino Foundation

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