The goal of ex situ conservation is to maintain genetic diversity, avoid inbreeding and maximize equal representation of founder individuals. Analysis of a well-maintained studbook yields important data concerning fertility and mortality that is invaluable to ex situ conservation. To evaluate the reproductive status of the European captive Southern white rhinoceros Ceratotherium simum simum population, basic demographics and population parameters were calculated using the International Studbook for the African White RhinocerosCeratotherium simum (2001–2004) data with the integration of recent scientific findings regarding reproductive health of individuals within the ‘reproductive age’. Kinship analysis of the 2001–2004 population was also performed to evaluate genetic diversity. Results indicated the population is declining 1·19 times faster than it is growing. To realize a 1% population increase at the 2001–2004 death rate, reproduction would have to increase by 214%. It is necessary to increase the genetically contributing subpopulation and to achieve a reproduction capacity that surpasses the rate currently possible with natural mating.