Today, September 22, marks World Rhino Day, and Africa's giant mammal, which has generated concern about its conservation status in recent years.
The team of rhino specialists from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates in their report that there were about 23,290 rhinos throughout Africa by 2022, showing an increase of 5.2% compared to the figure estimated for the end of 2021.
Rhino numbers are increasing
South Africa still has more rhinos than any other country, but poaching continues to take a toll, with 448 rhinos illegally killed in 2022, compared to 451 in 2021. The number of poached rhinos in Namibia rose to 93 in 2022 from 47 the previous year. Kenya's official figures reveal a decrease in poaching, with one rhino poached in 2022, down from six in the previous year.
Conservation initiatives on the continent have achieved an important triumph, as they had about 500,000 individuals in the 20th century. Since then, several species have been put at risk due to poaching and the commercialization of some of their parts, especially their horns (which have been attributed with superstitious and medical characteristics), reducing their populations.
The increase in the number of individuals continues to overshadow the hunting figures in different African countries, according to the IUCN, which reported that South Africa had 448 rhinos poached in 2022, compared to 451 in 2021. In 2022, poachers killed 93 rhinos in Namibia, compared to 47 the previous year. Official figures indicate that Kenya witnessed an increase in poaching, with one rhino being poached in 2022, up from six the previous year.
A sigh of relief
The number of individuals in the two species with the most individuals increased significantly. We recorded an estimated 6,487 individuals for the black rhinoceros, which is 4.2% more than in 2021. The white rhinoceros has 16,803 individuals, which is 5.6% more than the previous year.
The figure is valuable regarding the latter, as it represents the first record with an increase in the number of individuals for the white rhinoceros since 2012.
Michael Knight, Chair of the IUCN African Rhino Specialist Group (AfRSG), said, "We can breathe a sigh of relief for the first time in a decade with this good news. However, we must continue to consolidate and build on this positive development and not let our guard down."
The greater one-horned rhino population in India and Nepal remains stable at about 4,000, but poaching and habitat loss continue to concern conservationists.
There are about 76 Javan rhinos in Ujung Kulon national park in Indonesia, but there have been signs of illegal activity in the area.
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