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SOS Rhino : In the News : Archived News : December 2000 : Increasing Rhinos

Increasing Rhinos

World Wildlife Fund press release
December 1, 2000

Although people are not complaining about the overpopulation of rhinoceros the way people in southern Africa are about the high number of elephants, they are celebrating the growing numbers of two subspecies of black and white rhinos in the wild. According to the latest estimates by the World Conservation Union's (IUCN) African Rhino Specialist Group, there are more rhinos now than at any time since the early 1980s.

In 1999, the number of African rhinos in the wild was more than 13,000--up from 8,300 in 1992. The southern white rhino accounts for most of the increase. Numbers of this subspecies have grown from less than 100 in 1895 to more than 10,300 in 1999 (94 percent of which are in South Africa). There has also been a significant increase in continental black rhinos (up from 2,450 in 1992 to more than 2,700 in 1999). The stabilization and restoration of rhino populations are, in large part, the result of conservation efforts involving government agencies, loc al communities, nongovernmental organizations, and private landowners in such countries as South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Swaziland, and Tanzania.

Although the increase in southern white rhinos and continental black rhinos in the wild is encouraging, the future of many other subspecies, including the western black rhino and the northern white rhino, look bleak. Martin Brooks, chairman of IUCN's African Rhino Specialist Group, wants to maintain conservation efforts. He says, "Even though overall numbers are positive, there is no room for complacency. 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."

Rhinos are threatened by poachers who want to sell the horns for use in traditional Chinese medicine and decorative dagger handles in the Middle East.



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