The conservation of African rhinos has been a major wildlife trade issue for well over a decade. The most pressing threat to their continued survival in the wild is from poaching to satisfy consumer demand for their horn, predominantly from Asia.
Currently, there are approximately 20,000 White Rhinos Ceratotherium simum on the continent, classified by IUCN as Near Threatened.
Only two female captive individuals of the northern subspecies cottoni remain.
There are approximately 5,000 Black Rhinos still in Africa, classified as Critically Endangered by IUCN, with three surviving subspecies: Eastern Black Diceros b. michaeli, South-central Black D. b. minor and South-western Black D. b. bicornis. Black Diceros b. michaeli, South-central Black D. b. minor and South-western Black D. b. bicornis. The Western Black subspecies D. b. longipes was confirmed extinct in November 2011
Most African rhinos are now found in South Africa, which hosts 79% of the continent’s total, alongside other important range States Namibia, Kenya, and Zimbabwe.
In 2017, TRAFFIC revealed disturbing new evidence that criminal networks of Chinese origin operating in South Africa were processing rhino horn locally into beads, bracelets, bangles and powder to evade detection and provide ready-made products to consumers in Asia, mainly in Viet Nam and China.
2015 statistics showed 70% of rhinos poached in the country occurred in Kruger, compared to 60% in 2017.for rhino horn—which drives the rhino poaching crisis.
There is a strong link between this demand and the growth of wealthy, urban middle classes, There is a strong link between this demand and the growth of wealthy, urban middle classes, particularly within Viet Nam, where such a commodity is regarded as a status symbol and given as a gift to those in authority. There is also the belief that rhino horn can be used to cure a variety of ailments including cancer, thus enhancing demand further.
Traffic is at the forefront of understanding consumer demand for horn.