White Rhino Numbers May Have Fallen 24%, Foundation Says
The number of white rhinos, the most common of the world’s five rhino species, may have fallen by about a quarter during the past decade mainly because of poaching, the International Rhino Foundation said.
Numbers in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, an area the size of New Jersey, plunged by about 67% from 2011 to 2019 to just 3,549 animals due to poaching and a drought.
Rhino poaching in South Africa and elsewhere in Africa has been driven by demand for the animals’ horns in East Asia, where they’re believed by some people to cure cancer and boost virility. The International Union for The Conservation of Nature, which counts governments and civil society organizations among its members, officially estimates the white rhino population at 18,000. The IUCN’s African Rhino Specialist Group is trying to determine the impact of the decline in the white rhino population in Kruger.
“Some experts have estimated that Kruger’s steep population declines put the continental white rhino population number closer to 15,500 individuals,” the International Rhino Foundation said in a report. “If this is accurate, it would actually represent a 24% decline for this species over the past decade.”
Elsewhere a rise in illegal killings in Botswana of both black and white rhino has resulted in “perilous decreases” to the populations, the foundation said.
Still, the black rhino population has grown 16% to 17% during the past decade, helped by a decline in poaching in Namibia and Zimbabwe, to as many as 5,630, the foundation said.
White rhinos are bigger than black rhinos and generally live in more open areas with fewer trees. Three species of rhino are also found in Asia although their numbers have been decimated.
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