IRF is holding our first ever 30 mile virtual Rhino Protection Unit (RPU) Challenge. 30 miles is a normal day at the “office” for RPUs – they spend their time traversing rivers and climbing through dense rainforests in search of rhino tracks. Now is your chance to test yourself and show support for these RPUs. IRF challenges you to run, walk, hike or even swim 30 miles from May 19th to August 31, 2021. The cost to register for the challenge is $30 and you will receive the official RPU Challenge t-shirt with your registration.
RPUs are highly trained four-person units that patrol key areas of rhino habitat in the national parks. The program began on August 31, 1995 and celebrated its 25th year in 2020. RPUs not only patrol for poachers. They also perform vital monitoring activities, documenting rhino tracks or other signs encountered and any human disturbance to habitat encountered. They also remove snares and other dangers to wildlife encountered on their treks.
Members are recruited from local communities and even today, there are many applications for any opening. “To work with the RPU is not easy,” said Bahara, a 25-year RPU member. “Many people want to join but not everyone can.”
Recruits undergo a rigorous selection process that includes running, swimming, hiking, and other physical activities. That is followed by an intensive training course that includes classroom instruction, field exercises, and law enforcement practices. Members joined because they have a passion for wildlife conservation and understand the importance of Sumatran and Javan rhinos to Indonesia. Their favorite thing about the job is seeing or hearing a rhino while on patrol.
“Being RPU is honor for my family and they are proud of me,” said Endin, an RPU member in UKNP for 12 years.
Now is your chance to test yourself and show support for RPUs that are critical to protecting and monitoring rhinos to keep them safe from poachers. IRF challenges you to run, walk, hike or even swim 30 miles from May 19th to August 31, 2021.