International Rhino Foundation Announces Generous Bequest From Mark Hopkins Schell

January 30, 2020

The International Rhino Foundation (IRF) is pleased to announce a recent, generous bequest of $300,000 from the estate of Mark Hopkins Schell to benefit rhino conservation and applied research. Mark Hopkins Schell was a model, actor, successful business owner, and philanthropist, who hoped that his gift for rhinos would inspire others to support animal conservation and help build a better future for all creatures on Earth.

In honor of Mark’s legacy and his love for African wildlife, a portion of his gift to the IRF will benefit African rhinoceros conservation research. In March 2018, the IRF will co-host a Biological Management Workshop with WWF-South Africa. Nearly 75 rhino experts will convene to discuss topics ranging from how can the rhino conservation community best use genetic information to inform black rhino management to discussing the status of current rhino meta-population strategies and which areas within Africa are most important for future translocations. During these discussions, rhino experts will identify the highest priority research needs around these issues. In late spring, the IRF will offer a robust (what does this mean)? Request for Research Proposals for projects to address these and other rhino-related research needs. The Mark Hopkins Schell Research Awards has been established to fund conservation research projects addressing the high priority needs identified at the workshop.

Another portion of Mr. Schell’s generous gift will benefit work to reduce the demand for rhino horn in the main consumer country, Vietnam, and to further enhance protection of black rhinos in southern Africa.

About Mark Hopkins Schell
A Southern Californian, Mark Schell was a successful model, actor, business owner, and philanthropist, who generously bequeathed the majority of his estate to seven animal welfare organizations, including the IRF, to help build a better future for all creatures on Earth. “Over time, and particularly with the recent poaching crisis, Mark became outraged at the poaching of both rhinos and elephants and the effect on survival of those and other species”, stated his life-long friend and successor trustee of his estate, Pamela Thorsch. “He understood that the IRF’s mission of conservation and research has direct impact on the long-term survival of rhinos in the wild, and that rhinos are umbrella specifies and their presence in landscapes helps to maintain ecological balance”.

Pamela also shared that “Mark hoped that this gift would help to educate people about the antiquated beliefs for medicinal use of the horn – which means brutally taking the life of a living, breathing animal just for its horn. He was even more outraged that poachers kill to fund a tangled network of illegal activities, all of which impacts human life globally, including those of us living in the United States. He hoped that by providing this gift, awareness could be raised around the issue poaching as well as finding multi-dimensional solutions to the problem”.

About the International Rhino Foundation
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 the survival of many other species that share their habitat, including people. To learn about creating your own legacy or make a donation in support of saving rhinos, visit or email