Rhino poaching has escalated dramatically in recent years and is being driven by the demand for rhino horn in Asian countries, particularly Vietnam and China. Although there is no scientific proof of its medicinal value, rhino horn is highly prized in traditional Asian medicine. Commercial poaching has become big business, thanks to the boom in populations and the “new wealth” in Asia.
Rhinos were once abundant throughout Africa and Asia with an approximated worldwide population of 500 000 in the early twentieth century. Despite intensive conservation efforts, poaching of this iconic species has dramatically increased, pushing the remaining rhinos closer and closer towards extinction. South Africa is home to most rhinos left in the world and is heavily targeted by poachers. Rhino poaching has now reached a crisis point, and if the killing continues at the same rate, we could see rhino deaths overtaking births in 2016-2018, meaning rhinos will go extinct in the very near future.
The Western black rhino was already declared extinct by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) in 2011, with the primary cause identified as poaching. All five remaining rhino’s species are listed on the IUCN Redlist species, with three out of five species classified as critically endangered. Three rhinos are poached a day in South Africa for their horns.Total number of Rhinos poached in South Africa – In 2015: 1175, In 2016 : 1102.