The population of southern white rhinos has increased for the first time in a decade, according to a recent announcement by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). They conducted their annual survey and found that there are now approximately 16,803 white rhinos, marking a 5.6% increase from the previous year.
This is a significant development as it is the first time since 2012 that white rhino numbers have shown an increase. Additionally, the black rhino population also grew and reached nearly 6,500 by the end of the last year.
Michael Knight, the chair of the IUCN African Rhino Specialist Group, emphasized the importance of ongoing rhino conservation efforts, despite the recent population growth. Rhino poaching remains a serious threat to these animals.
In 2022, Africa experienced the loss of 561 rhinos due to poaching, with South Africa bearing the brunt of it with 448 rhinos killed. Namibia saw a significant increase in poaching incidents, with the number of rhinos killed rising from 47 in 2021 to 93 in 2022. However, there was a decrease in rhino poaching in Kenya, with one rhino lost in 2022 compared to six in 2021.
A recent announcement by the conservation group African Parks indicated their plans to release 2,000 southern white rhinos into the wild. This initiative follows their acquisition of the world’s largest private captive rhino breeding operation in South Africa.
It’s worth noting that there are only two surviving members of another rhino subspecies, the northern white rhino, both of which are female and located in Kenya. The near-extinction of this subspecies is attributed to rhino-horn poaching.