New hope for African rhinos
In September 2023, the IUCN announced that although poaching remains a threat, African rhino populations (both black and white rhinos) are increasing.
Rhinos are vital for biodiversity in Africa. These shy giants spend their days grazing and browsing which helps maintain healthy landscapes such as grassland habitats used by other wildlife. They also contribute to the livelihoods of local people through tourism and employment opportunities.
Illegal hunting or ‘poaching’ is one of the biggest threats to rhino populations in Africa. Poachers will kill rhinos to supply and profit from the illegal international rhino horn trade. Historically, rhino horn was used in traditional Asian medicine, for a variety of ailments, despite no scientific proof of its medical value. Today, rhino horn is increasingly used as a status symbol to display success and wealth, particularly in Vietnam.
During 2022, at least 561 rhinos were poached across Africa.
Solution and result
Despite poaching remaining high across the continent, African authorities have estimated that rhino population numbers have increased by 5.2% between 2021 and 2022. There were thought to be 23,290 wild African rhinos at the end of 2022 - 6,487 black rhinos and 16,803 white rhinos. This marks the first increase in white rhino numbers since 2012.
In Tanzania, black rhino populations are also increasing, having risen from 190 in 2020 to 238 individuals in 2023. This encouraging progress is only possible due to the combined conservation efforts of organisations including WWF, governments and local people.
Recently, Kenya has launched its latest Black Rhino Action Plan (2022-2026) which will guide Kenya’s black rhino conservation strategy for the coming years. WWF Kenya were able to collaborate on the development of the plan with funding from WWF UK and our generous supporters.
WWF-Kenya has supported rhino population surveys, equipment and infrastructure such as watchtowers in key rhino ranges. We've also supported training, such as rhino monitoring courses, and efforts to improve ranger welfare including the upgrade of living standards and supply of rations. WWF has also supported supplementary feeding of rhinos during Kenya’s recent drought.