Threats to rhinos remain despite drop in South Africa’s 2018 poaching numbers

Posted on 13 February 2019

Cape Town (13 February 2019). South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs has announced official figures showing that the number of rhinos killed in South Africa has dropped from 1 028 in 2017 to 769 in 2018.
Poaching losses in the rhino stronghold of the Kruger National Park declined from 504 in 2017 to 421 in 2018, in parallel with ongoing efforts to bring the situation under control. 

During the course of the year a total of 229 alleged poachers were arrested inside and adjacent to the Kruger National Park, 40 more than in 2017. However, the Kruger has also seen a rise in elephant poaching to 71 killings in 2018.
WWF notes that the crisis for rhinos is far from over and it is important to consider the number of live rhinos remaining as well as the number of poaching losses. Also of concern are reports from other rhino range states that levels of poaching pressure remain high across the region.
Whilst 2018 saw some major arrests and successful convictions, the frequent granting of bail, especially to those in the crime syndicates co-ordinating rhino horn trafficking, is a serious concern. We need targeted efforts to address corruption and more effective international collaboration on investigations into syndicates operating in Asia to address the entire criminal supply chain.
Dr Jo Shaw, African Rhino Lead for WWF International:
“The fact that fewer rhinos have been lost in South Africa in 2018 is good news and merits credit for the hard work and commitment of all those involved. However, the overall status of our rhino populations remains a concern and we need continued commitment to address the systemic challenges for rhinos across the region.”
Dr Margaret Kinnaird, WWF Wildlife Practice Leader:
“Corruption remains a major part of the challenge in addressing rhino poaching and trafficking of wildlife products. To address this, we need to consider what draws people into wildlife crime. We must find a way to empower people working and living around protected areas to be invested in a future with wildlife, including helping identify those who break the law.”
Contact: Andrea Weiss or 082 920 5993

About WWF 
WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organisations, with almost six million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.

WWF South Africa

WWF South Africa is a national office that is part of the WWF network. We are a local NGO that for 50 years has worked towards the aim of inspiring all South Africans to live in harmony with nature, for the benefit of our country and the well-being of all our people.

WWF stands for the World Wide Fund for Nature
White Rhinoceroses (Ceratotherium simum) and calf in the Shamwari Game Reserve, South Africa
© Teresa McLaughlin