RTL Today – Serious threats: Poaching, horn trade down but rhinos still under threat
Poaching and illegal horn trade have declined in recent years but remain serious threats to rhino survival, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said on Monday.
The Swiss-based body said 2,707 rhinos were poached in Africa between 2018 and 2021, 90% of which were killed in South Africa, mostly in Kruger National Park.
South Africa is home to nearly 80% of the world’s rhinos.
“Rhino poaching rates in Africa have continued to decline, from a peak of 5.3% of the total population in 2015 to 2.3% in 2021,” it said in a report.
“The global decline in rhino poaching is encouraging, but it remains an acute threat to the survival of these iconic animals,” said Sam Ferreira, Chief Scientist of the IUCN SSC African Rhino Specialist Group.
The IUCN has declared 2020 an abnormal year for rhino poaching with the Covid lockdown and trade and movement restrictions.
“Global closures and restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic have seen several African countries experience significantly reduced poaching rates in 2020 compared to previous years.
“South Africa lost 394 rhinos to poaching in 2020, while Kenya recorded no rhino poaching that year. poached rhinos in 2021,” he said.
“These numbers are still significantly lower than the peak in 2015, when South Africa alone lost 1,175 rhinos to poaching.”
The rhino population in Africa has declined by 1.6% per year, from 23,562 in 2018 to 22,137 at the end of last year.
The IUCN said the number of white rhinos – which it classifies as vulnerable on its Red List of Threatened Species – fell by almost 12%, from 18,067 to 15,942 during this period.
However, the number of black rhinos – deemed critically endangered by the body – rose by 12% to 6,195.
“To sustain the growth in rhino numbers, it is essential to continue active population management and anti-poaching activities for all subspecies in the various range states,” the IUCN said. .
Along with the decline in poaching, data analyzed for range states and consumer states suggests that on average, between 575 and 923 rhino horns entered illegal trade markets each year between 2018 and 2020. , compared to approximately 2,378 per year between 2016 and 2017.
– 2020 an “abnormal” year –
However, in 2019, prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, the reported seized weight of illegal rhino specimens reached a decade high, possibly due to increased regulations and enforcement efforts. the law.
“2020 represented an abnormal year with low levels of reported illegal activity, law enforcement and government reporting,” said Sabri Zain, Policy Director at TRAFFIC.
The IUCN said the number of one-horned rhinos, found mainly in India and Nepal, and the critically endangered Javan rhino, had increased since 2017.
“Thanks to conservation efforts, including strengthened law enforcement, the number of greater one-horned rhinos in India and Nepal has declined from an estimated 3,588 in 2018 to 4,014 by the end of 2021, while the total Javan rhino population has increased from 65-68 individuals in 2018 to 76 by the end of 2021,” he said.
But Sumatran rhino numbers have fallen to around 34 from 47 in 2021, from 40 to 78 individuals in 2018.
The IUCN classifies the Sumatran rhino, the smallest of all rhino species, as critically endangered.
The World Wide Fund for Nature estimates that there are fewer than 80 Sumatran rhinos left in the world, mostly on the Indonesian island of Sumatra and Borneo.
The IUCN report says 11 rhino poaching incidents have been recorded in Asia – 10 in India and one in Nepal – since the start of 2018, all involving greater one-horned rhinos.
“Detection of carcasses in dense tropical forests remains a challenge, and no cases of illegal killing of Sumatran rhinos have been reported despite the substantial population declines recorded,” he added.