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  • More action needed as South Africa continues to lose three rhinos a day to poaching.
  • 2016 figures reveal 1,054 rhinos illegally killed in the country.

New South African rhino poaching figures show a decline for the second consecutive year, highlighting the importance of concerted conservation efforts. More action is needed as South Africa continues to lose, on average, three rhinos a day to the rampant poaching crisis.

Today, the South African Department of Environmental Affairs announced that in 2016 1,054 rhinos were reported killed in the country. This is a decline from 1,215 in 2014 and 1,175 in 2015.

Enhanced enforcement efforts in the Kruger National Park, one of Africa’s largest wildlife reserves and home to the world’s largest population of white rhino, also resulted in a decline in the number of rhinos killed there. The number fell from 826 in 2015 to 662 in 2016 (a 20% reduction) despite an increase in the number of reported incursions in the 19 500km2 park.

However, despite showing some positive progress, rhino populations remain perilously close to the tipping point. 

Heather Sohl, WWF chief adviser on wildlife, comments:

“These figures are a stark reminder that we are seeing an unacceptable loss of life due to the illegal wildlife trade, which is the fourth largest transnational illegal trade in the world, worth an estimated £15 billion annually.  Whilst the slight decline in rhino poaching figures in South Africa shows positive progress, efforts to stamp out this horrific trade must be amplified.

“Urgent global action is needed to end the poaching crisis by reducing the demand for rhino horn in consumer countries, controlling transnational wildlife trafficking and tackling the corruption that is driving this trade. That South Africa continues to lose three rhinos a day to poachers is still far from acceptable.”


The latest figures also highlight the impacts of poaching sweeping across South Africa, as criminal syndicates shift their focus in response to law enforcement actions. Key populations in KwaZulu-Natal in particular bore the brunt of the poaching, with 161 rhinos killed in that province during 2016 – an increase of 38 per cent from the previous year.


Dr Jo Shaw, Rhino Programme Manager for WWF-SA, comments:

 “A decade has now passed since the initial upsurge in poaching in South Africa and huge effort has been invested in rhino protection. The toll on those working to address the challenge in the region is also unsustainably high. Committed conservationists have been defending wildlife at great personal cost. Ultimately, a more holistic approach is required in addressing the drivers of wildlife crime.”