By Jamie Leary

(CBS4) – When Professor Janet Rumfelt started the Running Wild 5K race at Regis University, she never thought the things would get worse for her cause.

janet rumfelt Runners In Colorado To Hit The Streets To Help Animals

Professor Janet Rumfelt (credit: CBS)

Rumfelt became aware of a problem threatening to wipe out African wildlife populations: Poaching. Since Running Wild launched in 2014, African wildlife populations have declined even further.

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A female elephant feeds her cub in the early morning hours in the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. (Photo credit ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)

“Until we give all animals their place in the sun, we can never be whole ourselves,” she said, paraphrasing a line from a book she read by renowned conservationist Lawrence Anthony.

“That resonated with me and I was so alarmed by what I was seeing I had to do something.”

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(credit: Denver Zoo)

Here’s the Breakdown according to iworry.org, a campaign by the David Sheldrick Foundation:

  • Elephants – Less than 400,000. Around 23,000 are killed every year (approximately one every 15 minutes), mostly for their ivory.
  • Rhinos – Around 25,000. 1 is killed every 7-8 hours, mostly for their horns. This past spring, Sudan, the last male northern white rhino on earth, and barring a scientific miracle, its subspecies will be lost to extinction when the remaining two females die.
  • Cheetahs – Around 7,100, and they are extinct in more than 20 countries.
  • Lions – Around 20,000
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(credit: TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is one of the race beneficiaries, receiving 35 percent of the profit. The Cheetah Conservation fund receives 20 percent and Denver-based Wildlife Protection Solutions receives 45 percent. These are just some of the organizations with volunteers physically the ground, finding solutions to restore health to struggling populations. Wildlife Protection Solutions currently has four volunteers stationed in South Africa.

“I couldn’t sit on the sidelines and I decided a race would be the perfect way to raise awareness about the problem… and also since I live on another continent and I’m not a scientist, to support organizations who are on the ground in Africa,” she said.

The race has raised and donated over $22,000 over the last four years. Janet hopes it not only continues to bring people together and raise awareness but also funds for African wildlife conservation.

The race will be held at Regis University on Saturday, June 23. Click here to register.

Jamie Leary joined the CBS4 team in 2015 and currently works as a reporter for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. She couldn’t imagine a better place to live and work and will stop at nothing to find the next great story. Jamie loves learning about and hearing from her fellow community members, so connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @JamieALeary.

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