Leibniz-IZW is honored with the "UN-Decade for Biodiversity Award“

Photo: Ralf Günther
Photo: Ralf Günther

The “Sabah Rhino Project“ of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) was awarded as an official project of the UN-Decade for Biodiversity. This tribute is given to projects, which remarkably campaign for the preservation of biodiversity.

The Leibniz-IZW is honored with the “UN-Decade for Biodiversity Award“ for its research project on the conservation of the Sabah-rhinos on Borneo. Especially the scientific contribution of the project for conservation of biodiversity in Southeast Asia and the international communication campaign were honored. The award ceremony took place during the “Zoo Aktionstage“ (open house) in Leipzig Zoo on the 8th of October 2016.

The award of UN-Decade-Projects is directly related to the “UN-Decade for Biodiversity”, which was declared by the United Nations for the period of 2011 to 2020. The award represents a seal of quality and makes the participants aware of their commitment for a living diversity as part of a global strategy. As many people as possible should be inspired by these exemplary activities and take the excellent projects as an example to become active in nature conservation. The aim of the International Decade is to halt the worldwide decline in biodiversity.

“The research project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) on the “Preservation and Protection of the Sabah Rhino” is the implementation of an innovative research approach to combat the ubiquitous loss of biodiversity,” explains Thomas Hildebrandt, Department Head Reproduction Management at Leibniz-IZW.

The Leibniz-IZW, Zoo Leipzig and the Berlin creative agency dan pearlman brand and experience architecture GmbH developed a media-oriented corporate design for the research project and implemented a worldwide communication campaign. „The wide range of communication measures highlights the importance of research for the protection of species and the conservation of natural resources in a rationally and emotionally comprehensive way,” said Steven Seet, Head of Press and Communication at Leibniz-IZW. Nicole Srock-Stanley, Chief Executive Officer dan pearlman, adds: “The Sabah Rhino Project is a project that is near to our heart. The declared aim of the communication campaign was to generate a maximum of media attention for the protection of an endangered unique wildlife species and its habitat. In this project we were able to contribute our experience as brand developer and zoo experts.“ With financial and media support from the BMBF, the Leibniz-IZW produced e.g. four short films on the loss of biodiversity (https://www.youtube.com/user/izwberlin). The short films were broadcasted in German, English and Malay. The films were also nominated for the '2. Deauville Green Awards' film festival 2013 in France.

The Leibniz-IZW, the Zoo Leipzig, the State Government of the Sabah State of Malysia, the Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA) and the Rhino and Forest Fund (RFF) agreed to join forces and fight the loss of biodiversity in Sabah. With the help of science, the number of remaining rhinos in Borneo’s rainforests is established and improvement in reproductive success is supported. “The RFF reconnects patches of rhino habitats by reforestation, this allows the integration of isolated rhinos,“ says Petra Kretzschmar, founding member of the RFF and scientist at Leibniz-IZW.

Having a shoulder height of 1.3 meters only, the Sabah-rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis harrissoni), a subspecies of the Sumatran rhinoceros, is the smallest rhino in the world. Borneo is one of the hotspots for biodiversity on our planet. It is home to the world-wide oldest rainforests and harbours a unique flora and fauna. With less than ten living individuals, the Sabah rhino is the most endangered rhinoceros species on our planet, along with the „Northern White Rhino“ in Africa (only three living individuals are left). Sabah rhinos live in the lowland rainforests of Borneo. The cultivation for oil palms for the production of palm oil endangers its habitat. When the Sabah rhino dies out, the forests lose not only a charismatic animal species, but possibly also their high protection status in the future. Countless other species living in the same habitat and thus under the „ecological umbrella “ of the Sabah rhino are then endangered by the transformation of the forest into agricultural land.

“This exemplary project is an important sign of the commitment to biodiversity. This effort has impressed the jurors and judges of the UN Decade Competition,” says Svana Rogalla, UN Decade Youth Ambassador.

Along with a certificate and an award plate, the Leibniz-IZW receives (as representative for all project partners) a „diversity-tree“. The tree represents the colorful diversity and unique beauty of nature. The project is now being presented on the German UN Decade website at “www.undekade-biologischevielfalt.de“.

Biodiversity is all that contributes to the diversity of nature: species of animals, plants, fungi and microorganisms, their interactions with each other and the environment, as well as the genetic diversity within species and the diversity of habitats. Protecting natural diversity not only means preserving the beauty of nature. It also means to secure the foundations of survival of all. 



Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW)
of the Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.
Alfred-Kowalke-Straße  17, 10315 Berlin, Germany

Prof. Dr. Thomas Hildebrandt
Tel.: +49-30-5168-440
Dr. Petra Kretschmar
Tel.: +49-30-5168-513
Steven Seet (Press officer)
Tel.: +49 30-5168-125


Zoo Leipzig GmbH

Pfaffendorfer Straße 29
04105 Leipzig
Frank Oberwemmer
(Conservation and Eco-Management Officer)
Tel.: +49-341-5933-515

dan pearlman Markenarchitektur GmbH

Gesellschaft von Architekten und Innenarchitekten mbH
Kiefholzstraße 1, Aufgang K1, 3. Etage
12435 Berlin
Diana Bennewitz
(Head of Marketing, Corporate Communications)
Tel.: +49-30-53-000-576



The Leibniz Institute for Zoo & Wildlife Research (IZW) is an internationally renowned research institute of the Leibniz Association. With the mission of "understanding and improving adaptability" it examines evolutionary adaptations of wildlife and its resilience to global change, and develops new concepts and measures for conservation. To achieve this, the IZW uses its broad interdisciplinary expertise in evolutionary ecology and genetics, wildlife diseases, reproductive biology and management in a close dialogue with stakeholders and the public. The IZW belongs to the Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.