An overview of the conservation status of and threats to rhinoceros species in the wild



This paper summarizes the recent status of rhinoceros species, as provided by IUCN Species Survival Commission's Rhinoceros Specialist Groups, and describes some of the current conservation measures. At the time of writing there are c. 14 950 rhinoceros remaining in Africa and c. 2850 in Asia. During the last decade conservation initiatives have achieved notable successes; however, numbers of some species and subspecies have declined over this period and three subspecies are close to extinction. The illegal demand for rhinoceros horn and the subsequent poaching this generates continue to pose a serious threat to rhinoceros populations worldwide. However, experience indicates that where anti-poaching efforts are concentrated above minimum threshold levels population losses as a result of poaching can be reduced to a low and sustainable level. However, not all populations receive sufficient protection and declining budgets of range-state governments for field conservation are a major cause for concern. The role of donor support is, therefore, becoming increasingly important. For some subspecies lack of adequate habitat protection rather than lack of suitable habitat is a major constraint for population expansion and growth. Many rhinoceros populations in Africa are managed as part of bigger meta-populations. However, sub-optimal biological management is also reducing population growth rates in a number of populations.