Thursday, September 21, 2023
Conservationists have reported a notable increase in rhino numbers across Africa, marking a positive turn in the fight to protect these endangered animals from poaching.
In 2022, Africa was home to nearly 23,300 rhinos, representing a 5.2 per cent increase from the previous year, as reported by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The IUCN's African Rhino Specialist Group, chaired by wildlife ecologist Michael Knight, credited this growth to a combination of protection efforts and biological management initiatives.
Notably, black rhino populations rose by 4.2 per cent to reach 6,487, while white rhinos increased by 5.6 per cent to a total of 16,803. This uptick in white rhino numbers is particularly significant, as it marks the first increase since 2012.
Knight emphasized the importance of building upon this positive development and maintaining vigilance to protect these rhino populations. Despite the encouraging news, poaching remains a severe threat.
In 2022, over 550 rhinos were killed by poachers in Africa, with the majority of incidents occurring in South Africa.
South Africa is home to nearly 80 per cent of the world's rhinos, making it a critical location for conservation efforts. Poachers have increasingly targeted privately owned reserves in pursuit of rhino horns, which fetch high prices on the black market—comparable to the value of gold and cocaine, with an estimated cost of $60,000 per kilogram.
To ensure the continued growth of rhino populations, ongoing protection measures and global cooperation are essential to combat poaching and safeguard these magnificent creatures.