Lazy eyes listen
The African rhino population is increasing for the first time in a decade, despite continued poaching, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
According to data released ahead of World Rhino Day on Friday, there would be an estimated 23,290 rhinos on the continent by the end of 2022, a 5.2% rise over the previous year.
Notably, the number of white rhinos assessed for inclusion on The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species in 2020 has increased by 5.6%, to roughly 16,803. The rise is the first since 2012.
“With this good news, we can take a sigh of relief for the first time in a decade. However, it is imperative to further consolidate and build upon this positive development and not drop our guard,” said Dr Michael Knight, Chair of the IUCN African Rhino Specialist Group (AfRSG).
According to the IUCN website, the recovery is largely due to the privately owned Platinum Rhino project’s protection and biological management measures, which aim to maintain and breed the species to avert extinction.
The project was sold earlier this year to the African Parks Foundation, which hopes to rewild 2,000 rhinos over the next decade.
There are five rhino species in the globe, with the white and black rhinos found in Africa and the Sumatran, Javan, and Indian rhinos found in Asia.
Poaching is still a major issue. Official records show that 448 rhinos were illegally slaughtered in South Africa in 2022, with neighbouring Namibia reporting 93 rhinos slain. While the figures are certainly alarming, they indicate a considerable decrease from the previous year, when 1,349 African rhinos were poached.
Around 500,000 rhinos roamed Africa and Asia at the turn of the century. By 1970, their population had shrunk to 70,000.
Despite the fact that southern white rhinos are currently thriving in protected sanctuaries, the western black rhino and northern white rhino have become extinct in the wild. The only two remaining northern white rhinos are guarded around the clock in Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy.