African rhino poaching crisis

Rhino poaching has increased dramatically in the last few years, with hundreds killed each year for their horns.
 / ©: / Andy Rouse / WWF
Clic to discover how WWF is working to protect rhinos in Africa and Asia
© / Andy Rouse / WWF
Some black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) are under 24 hour armed guard due to risk of poaching ... rel=
Some black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) are under 24 hour armed guard due to risk of poaching Africa.
© Martin Harvey / WWF

Fueled by demand from Asian medicine market

Although there is no scientific proof of its medical value, rhino horn is highly prized in traditional Asian medicine, where it is ground into a fine powder or manufactured into tablets as a treatment for a variety of illnesses such as nosebleeds, strokes, convulsions, and fevers.

Organized poaching gangs

This demand has created highly profitable and organized international poaching criminal syndicates who deploy advanced technologies ranging from night vision scopes, silenced weapons, darting equipment and helicopters to carry out their mission.

According to Dr Joseph Okori, head of WWF's African Rhino Programme:

"The African rhino is under serious threat from poachers who have intensified their search of rhino for their horns since 2007, driven by growing market demands in Asia."

Help save Africa's rhinos

Make a donation towards much-needed anti-poaching equipment and support for rangers across Africa.

“The rhino poaching trend is extremely worrying. If it is not stopped, the world could lose African rhinos. This is a tragedy we do not want to contemplate.” 

Dr Joseph Okori, Head of WWF’s African Rhino Programme


Share on Tumblr
 / ©: / Mark Carwardine / WWF
Southern white rhinoceros skulls retrieved from animals killed by poachers, Mkhaya Game Reserve, Swaziland
© / Mark Carwardine / WWF

Hundreds of rhinos poached each year

Thanks to successful conservation efforts, Southern Africa is now home to the majority of Africa's surviving rhinos.

Even so, South Africa – home to more than 80% of Africa’s rhino populations –  is losing hundreds of rhinos each year.  In this country alone:
  • 122 rhinos were killed in 2009
  • 333 rhinos were killed in 2010
  • 388 rhinos have been killed so far in 20121 

Continued action needed

Although both black and white rhino populations are growing healthily overall, some subspecies are still listed as Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Continued poaching could see Africa’s rhinos slide over the brink, into extinction.


What you can do

  • Don't buy rhino horn products! Illegal trade in rhino horn is a continuing problem, posing one of the greatest threats to rhinos today.
  • Donate towards much-needed anti-poaching equipment and support for rangers across Africa.
    South Africans / Residents of other countries

    Donations will go towards:
    • binoculars
    • radios
    • night-vision gear
    • bullet-proof armour
    • rhino tracking
    • camping equipment
    • training for guards
       All money received will go towards rhino conservation.

   Read more about WWF-South Africa's campaign.
  • Spread the word! Click on the button to share this information with others via email or your favourite social networking service.

    Bookmark and Share


  •  The WWF Wildlife Crime Scorecard report selects 23 range, transit and consumer countries from Asia and Africa facing the highest levels of illegal trade in elephant ivory, rhino horn and tiger parts.

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required