African Rhinoceroses – Latest trends in rhino numbers and poaching
April 2013, Volume 11-2

An update to Doc 54-2-Annexe 2 from the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s (IUCN/SSC) African Rhino Specialist Group to the CITES Secretariat pursuant to Resolution Conf. 9.14 (Rev. CoP15)

The CITES Parties, through Resolution Conf 9.14 (Rev. CoP15) mandated IUCN/SSC’s African Rhino Specialist Group (AfRSG), Asian Rhino Specialist Group (AsRSG) and TRAFFIC to prepare a report for the 16th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP16) “on the national and continental conservation status of African and Asian rhinoceros species, trade in specimens of rhinoceros, stocks of specimens of rhinoceros and stock management, incidents of illegal killing of rhinoceroses, enforcement issues, and conservation actions and management strategies, with an evaluation of their effectiveness” and “measures by implicated states to end illegal use and consumption of rhino parts and derivatives”. This report (Emslie et al 2012 ) was submitted to the CITES Secretariat and is included as Annexe 2 to the CITES Secretariat’s report on rhinos for CoP16 (Doc CoP16-54-02-rev 1). This report gave African rhino numbers as of the end of December 2010 and continental poaching statistics by country up to the end of September 2012. The report however indicated that the AfRSG should be able to provide Parties at CITES CoP16 with updated rhino numbers as of December 2012. This document serves to provide Parties with updated numbers and poaching statistics that were compiled at the recent 11th meeting of IUCN SSC AfRSG held in Kenya from the 17-22 February 2013.

Status and Trends
Despite high and increasing levels of poaching, both rhino species have continued to increase in the wild, with white rhino (Ceratotherium simum) up from 20,165 in 2010 to 20,405 and black rhino (Diceros bicornis) up from 4,880 in 2010 to 5,055 ( see Table below).

The majority of Africa’s (black and white) rhinos (98.0%) continue to be conserved by four range States: South Africa, Namibia, Kenya and Zimbabwe (Table 1). Botswana, Tanzania and Swaziland each conserve over 100 rhinos with smaller numbers in Zambia, Malawi, Uganda, Mozambique and Angola. While numbers of both species have continued to increase, the continued escalation in population growth has slowed.

Poaching and illegal killing

From 2006 through to 20 February 2012, a minimum of 2,387 rhino were reportedly poached in 11 of the 12 rhino range States in Africa. The data shows that poaching escalated significantly since September 2012, and especially in the last quarter of 2012. The 2012 continental total reached 745. This represents a 43% increase from 2011-12.

Further information on this subject can be found in a recent paper by Dr Brian Child: The sustainable use approach could save South Africa’s rhinos. S Afr J Sci. 2012;108(7/8), Art. #1338, 4 pages. v108i7/8.1338

Compiled by Richard H Emslie, IUCN/SSC African Rhino (AfRSG) and Asian Rhino Specialist Group (AsRSG)