After Nearly a Decade of Declines, Africa’s White Rhino Population Is Growing

A white rhino and calf at a game reserve in Kenya.

A white rhino and calf at a game reserve in Kenya. Byrdyak via Wikipedia

White rhinos saw their numbers grow for the first time since 2012 last year, boosted by efforts to restore the creatures to the African landscape.

White rhinos now total 16,803, according to a tally from the International Union for Conservation of Nature released Friday, World Rhino Day. Black rhinos also saw their ranks swell, and now number 6,487. Together, the population of both white and black rhinos grew by more than 5 percent last year.

Michael Knight, who leads the IUCN rhino group, welcomed the news. However, he said, “it is imperative to further consolidate and build upon this positive development and not drop our guard.” Poaching continues to bedevil African rhinos, with 561 killed illegally last year, largely in South Africa.

In India and Nepal, the greater one-horned rhino population held steady at a little more than 4,000. In Indonesia, rhinos remain deeply imperiled. The number of Javan rhinos stands at 76, but several of those have not been spotted in at least three years. Of Sumatran rhinos, fewer than 80 remain, officials say, although experts caution the actual number could be far lower.


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