Glimmer of hope for the African Black Rhino

Glimmer of hope for the African Black Rhino as experts reveal numbers increased 2.5 per cent a year between 2012 and 2018 to reach 5,630 living in the wild

  • The numbers come from the International Union for Conservation of Nature
  • Experts say that the slow rise is thanks to ‘immense’ conservation efforts
  • These have included increased law enforcement efforts against poachers 
  • Careful rhino population management has also helped to increase their numbers

African Black Rhinos have been given a glimmer of hope as experts have revealed that numbers increased 2.5 per cent a year between 2012 and 2018.

There are now around 5,630 living in the wild, thanks to ‘immense’ conservation efforts, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reported.

These efforts included law enforcement and population management measures, including moving some rhinos from established populations to new locations.

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African Black Rhinos have been given a glimmer of hope as experts have revealed that numbers increased 2.5 per cent a year between 2012 and 2018. This means that there are now around 5,630 living in the wild, thanks to ‘immense’ conservation efforts

‘Africa’s rhinos are by no means safe from extinction,’ said IUCN acting director general Grethel Aguilar.

However, she added, ‘the continued slow recovery of Black Rhino populations is a testament to the immense efforts made in the countries the species occurs in, and a powerful reminder to the global community that conservation works.’

‘At the same time, it is evident that there is no room for complacency as poaching and illegal trade remain acute threats.

‘It is essential that the ongoing anti-poaching measures and intensive, proactive population management continue, with support from national and international actors.’

Population models predict a further slow increase over the next five years, according to the IUCN update.

The south-western black rhino, a subspecies, has seen sufficient population growth over the last three generations to be newly categorised as only ‘Near Threatened’, the IUCN said.

But the other two surviving subspecies — the South-eastern and Eastern rhinos — both remain ‘Critically Endangered’ due to their drastic declines between the 1970s and 1990s.

There are now around 5,630 living in the wild, thanks to ‘immense’ conservation efforts, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reported 

Meanwhile, Africa’s other rhino species — the white rhino — continues to be categorised as ‘Near Threatened’ on the IUCN Red List.

While poaching of African rhinos continues to be the main threat to the two species, the IUCN said that the strong counter-measures taken by range states, private landowners and communities in recent years are having a positive effect.

Figures indicate that poaching numbers have decreased after a peak in 2015, when a minimum of 1,349 rhinos were found to have been targeted.

In 2018, there were a minimum of 892 rhinos poached — a number that is equivalent to one every ten hours.

‘If the encouraging declines in poaching can continue, this should positively impact rhino numbers,’ said Richard Emslie, Red List authority coordinator for the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s African Rhino Specialist Group.

‘Continued expenditure and efforts will be necessary to maintain this trend.’

The update to the Red List shows that more than 31,000 of 116,177 known animal species are threatened with extinction.

WHAT IS THE ENDANGERED ‘RED LIST’?

Species on the endangered red list are animals of the highest conservation priority that need ‘urgent action’ to save.

An Amber list is reserved for the next most critical group, followed by a green list.

Red list criteria:

  • Globally threatened
  • Historical population decline in UK during 1800–1995
  • Severe (at least 50 per cent) decline in UK breeding population over last 25 years
  • Severe (at least 50 per cent) contraction of UK breeding range over last 25 years  

Last year, in the UK, several more species were added to the list. 

These included:  

  • Atlantic puffin
  • Nightingale 
  • Long-tailed duck 
  • Turtle dove

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