By Panafrican News Agency
August 7, 2000
DAKAR, Senegal (PANA) - There are currently more rhino in Africa
than at any time since the early mid 1980s, says a report issued
Monday by the World Conservation Union and the World Wildlife Foundation.
According to estimates issued in Gland, Switzerland, the two species
of African rhinoceros, the black rhino (Diceros bicornis) and the
white rhino (Ceratotherium simum) continued to increase in the wild.
The estimates, prepared by IUCN's African Rhino Specialist Group,
showed there were just over 13,000 African rhino in 1999 compared
to 8,300 in 1992.
Most of this increase is due to the continued rapid growth in the
number of southern white rhino.
The balance between white and black rhino has shifted with 79 percent
of African rhino in the wild in 1999 being white rhino, compared
to only 30 percent in 1984, the report says.
"Even though overall numbers are positive, there is no room
for complacency, " Dr Martin Brooks, chairman of IUCN's African
Rhino Specialist Group, said.
"Numbers of two of the six African rhino subspecies remain
very low, and invasions of private land in Zimbabwe by war veterans
and squatters currently pose a threat to several significant populations,"
The demand for rhino horn for traditional Chinese medicine (not
as an aphrodisiac, as commonly believed) and for making decorative
dagger handles in the Middle East has for decades fuelled an illegal
international horn trade which has led to the poaching of thousands
However, intensive conservation efforts in several African countries
have helped black rhino numbers increase in the wild from a low
of around 2,450 in 1992 to just over 2,700 by 1999, with a further
234 black rhino in captivity world-wide.
While the continuing increase in continental black rhino numbers
since 1995 is encouraging, the future of one of the four black rhino
subspecies, the western black rhino, is bleak with only about 10
animals remaining scattered across northern Cameroon.
The southern white rhino, rescued from near extinction a century
ago, stands as one of the world's greatest conservation success
stories, up from approximately 20 in 1895 to just over 10,300 by
The report says that 94 percent of these were in South Africa while
a further 721 were in captivity world-wide.
By contrast, the situation facing the other white rhino subspecies,
the northern white rhino, is critical; and today only 24 to 31 exist
in the wild in a single population in the Democratic Republic of
Congo. Following a recent birth there are now 10 northern white
rhino in captivity.
The report attributes the increase in the number of the beasts
to the implementation of effective conservation strategies involving
government agencies, local communities, NGOs and private landowners
in countries like South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Swaziland
"One of the greatest challenges facing the future of rhinos
in both Africa and Asia is maintaining sufficient conservation expenditure
and field effort," Brooks added.