Animal

Conservation victory as number of African black rhinos increases by 2.5%


Numbers of African black rhinos are slowly increasing (Picture: PA)

The number of African black rhinos in the wild has increased by 2.5%
over the last six years, after almost being driven to extinction by poachers.

There were 5,630 black rhinos recorded in 2018, in comparison to an estimated 4,845 in 2012, a new report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said. Conservationists have been working to protect the species by moving them to new locations and battling to protect them through changes to the law.

The animals are still listed as critically endangered, but the
IUCN expects the numbers to continue growing at a small rate for the next five
years.

Grethel Aguilar, acting director general of the ICUN, said: ‘The continued slow recovery is a testament to the immense efforts made in the countries and a powerful reminder that conservation works.

Conservationists have been working hard to help the species survive (Picture: PA)

‘There is no room for complacency as poaching and illegal trade
remain acute threats. It is essential that the ongoing anti-poaching measures
and intensive, proactive population management continue, with support from
national and international actors.’

The IUCN said overall the number of rhinos killed by poachers had decreased, with 892 rhinos poached in 2018, down from a peak of 1,349 in 2015, when an average 3.7 rhinos were killed every day.

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Meanwhile, the outlook for other African rhino species is not as positive. White rhinos remain popular with poachers as their horns are larger than black rhinos, and their habitats are more open.

Numbers of the southern white rhino subspecies fell by 15% between 2007 and 2012, bringing the number from 21,300 to 18,000.

Richard Emslie, a coordinator for African rhinos at IUCN, said: ‘With the involvement of transnational organised crime in poaching, rhino crimes are not just wildlife crimes.

‘If the encouraging declines in poaching can continue, this should positively impact rhino numbers. Continued expenditure and efforts will be necessary to maintain this trend.’

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