Conservationists predict continuous growth for Africa’s rhino population


The rhino population in Africa, of which 80% is in South Africa, is expected continue to grow by next year because of a marked reduction in poaching.


The rhino population in Africa, of which 80% is in South Africa, is expected continue to grow by next year because of a marked reduction in poaching.

Conrad Bornman/Rapport/Madia24/Gallo Images

  • There are more than 23 000 black and white rhino in Africa, of which 80% are in South Africa.
  • For the first time since 2012, there was an increase in the white rhino population in Africa.
  • Conservationists say traditional poaching methods are becoming increasingly unsuccessful.

Conservationists predict that the rhino population in Africa, of which 80% is in South Africa, will continue to grow by next year because of a marked reduction in poaching.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), by the end of last year, around 23 000 rhino were known to exist in Africa.

The increase in numbers was estimated by the IUCN to be 4.2% for black rhino, while the figure for white rhino was 5.6%.

For the white rhino, IUCN said, it was the first time there was an increase in numbers since 2012.

Sam Ferreira, an IUCN scientific officer, told News24 there could be more rhino in Africa in 2024 – if anti-poaching measures remain effective.

“In terms of the trend in poaching, the primary threat to rhino, it was noted that there were declining poaching rates at the continental scale from just over 5% in 2015 to 2.5% in 2022.

He said:

At least 561 rhino were poached across the continent during 2022, mostly in South Africa.

According to a report tabled at the 19th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES COP19) in Panama last year, traditional poaching methods were becoming increasingly unsuccessful.

That’s why, in the case of Botswana, poachers have come up with more high-tech-based methods.

“Botswana noted that, in vast open areas, syndicates used satellite phones where there was no cellular network coverage to coordinate operations and, at times, spent weeks in the bush. This allows syndicates to restock their supplies while illegally hunting and eventually move what they poached out of protected areas,” the report said.

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It was the same in Tanzania’s expansive areas, such as the Selous Game Reserve and Nyerere National Park.

There is evidence of organised syndicates in South Africa making deliberate attempts to infiltrate Kruger National Park staff in order to obtain information to aid in poaching, such as rhino whereabouts and ranger deployments.

Poachers leaving after arriving as tourists have grown to be a significant issue.

For example, rangers discovered carcasses between 200 and 700 metres from tourist highways, proving that alleged poachers were aware of the rhino’s whereabouts, the COP19 report said.

The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.


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