WWF African Rhino Programme

WWF has been involved in rhino conservation and management in Africa for nearly 50 years.
World Rhino Day, 22 September

Initial focus on protected areas

Over the first three decades, our support to rhino conservation was primarily directed towards large protected areas, which historically held large rhino populations in vast tracts of undisturbed land. 

However, we realized that more was needed: the resources available were too few and too thinly spread. This was made more critical because of high levels of poaching, spurred by commercial interests attached to the international rhino horn trade, poverty and inadequate capacity for rhino management among range state authorities.

More strategic approach

In 1997, WWF adopted a more strategic and proactive approach to rhino conservation: the African Rhino Programme (ARP).

This continent-wide action programme coordinates and implements WWF’s efforts towards the in situ management and conservation of rhinos (i.e., conservation under natural conditions, particularly within the original range of each rhino subspecies). The programme works in cooperation with many partners, including government bodies, other conservation groups and NGOs, the private sector and local communities.

Based on lessons learned and our long experience, the programme is guided by successive 3-year Species Action Plans. 

Conservation successes

Rhinos are now  recovering in many African landscapes, thanks to our anti-poaching projects and work with communities who we help benefit from conservation schemes.

When the African Rhino Programme launched, there were 8,466 white rhinos and 2,599 critically endangered black rhinos remaining in the wild.

Today there are over 20,000 white rhinos and almost 5,000 black rhinos.

Still more to do

While taking stock and celebrating our many successes, we aware that much still needs to be done to secure a future for Africa’s rhinos.

Our ongoing work to protect African rhinos and increase their numbers includes:

  • Expanding existing protected areas and improving their management
  • Establishing new protected areas
  • Improving security monitoring to protect rhinos from poaching
  • Improving local and international law enforcement to stop the flow of rhino horn and other illegal wildlife trade items from Africa to other regions of the world
  • Promoting well managed wildlife-based tourism experiences that will also provide additional funding for conservation efforts.

Help save Africa's rhinos

Make a donation towards much-needed anti-poaching equipment and support for rangers across Africa.
 / ©: WWF / Martin Harvey
White rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum).
© WWF / Martin Harvey


 / ©: WWF
What's at stake?

How you can help

  • 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.

  • Spread the word! Click on the button to share this information with others via email or your favourite social networking service.

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