3 percent of the world's rhinos were poached in 2012 - Unsustainable
African rhinos won't hold out for much longer, IUCN experts warn
Rhino poaching has reached unsustainable levels. Photo credit IUCN
February 2013. Nearly 2,400 rhinos have been poached across Africa since 2006, slowing the population growth of both African rhino species to some of the lowest levels since 1995, according to the latest facts revealed by IUCN experts.
3% of the world's rhinos poached in 2012
Rhino poaching increased by 43% between 2011 and 2012, representing a loss of almost 3% of the population in 2012, according to IUCN's Species Survival Commission's (SSC) African Rhino Specialist Group. Experts predict that if poaching continues to increase at this rate, rhino populations could start to decline in less than two years' time.
"Well-organized and well-funded crime syndicates are continuing to feed the growing black market with rhino horn," says Mike Knight, Chairman of the IUCN SSC African Rhino Specialist Group, a group of rhino experts within IUCN's Species Survival Commission. "Over the past few years, consumer use of rhino horn has shifted from traditional Asian medicine practices to new uses, such as to convey status. High levels of consumption - especially the escalating demand in Viet Nam - threaten to soon reverse the considerable conservation gains achieved over the last two decades."
5000 Black rhinos and 20,000 White rhinos
There are currently 5,055 Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) and 20,405 White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum) in Africa. Although these numbers have increased slightly over the last two years, there is no room for complacency. In 2012, at least 745 rhinos were poached throughout Africa - the highest number in two decades - with a record 668 rhinos killed in South Africa alone. In 2013, one rhino has been lost to poaching every 11 hours since the beginning of the year - a rate that is higher than the average for 2012.
Viet Nam & China
Illegal trade in rhino horn is coordinated by well-organised criminal syndicates which transport the horns primarily to Viet Nam and China. Mozambique has also been identified as a key driver of poaching activities, with poachers making cross-border raids into the South African Kruger National Park, home to the world's largest rhino population. Mozambique is also a major transit point for illegal horn to Asia.
IUCN experts call upon the international community - especially the key consumer and transit states such as Viet Nam, China and Mozambique - to urgently address the crisis by strengthening and enforcing regional and international trade laws, particularly in relation to rhino horn.