A new report has shown an overall decline in rhino poaching rates since 2018, the lowest annual estimate of rhino horns entering illegal trade markets since 2013.
The report was released on August 22, 2022 by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission in Africa and Asia, and TRAFFIC – a non-governmental organization working to ensure that wildlife trade is not a threat to the conservation of nature.
The report finds that rhino poaching rates in Africa have continued to decline from a peak of 5.3% of the total population in 2015 to 2.3% in 2021.
Compared to previous years, the report findings attributed the decline to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and travel restrictions in Africa. For instance, South Africa lost 394 rhinos to poaching in 2020, while Kenya recorded no rhino poaching that year.
“The overall decline in poaching of rhinos is encouraging, yet this remains an acute threat to the survival of these iconic animals,” said Sam Ferreira, Scientific Officer with the IUCN SSC African Rhino Specialist Group.
“To support the growth of rhino numbers, it is essential to continue active population management and anti-poaching activities for all subspecies across different range states.”
Alongside the decline in poaching, data analysed for range and consumer states suggests that, on average, between 575 and 923 African rhino horns entered illegal trade markets each year between 2018 and 2020, compared to approximately 2,378 per year between 2016 and 2017.
The report data shows that Rwanda had one black and white rhino respectively in 2005, but both species increased in 2017 to 19 each. Last year, the country recorded 28 each- making the current total as 58 overall.
At the same time, the report shows that between 2018-2020 Rwanda (as state a party) was not implicated in any seizures of illegal horns made, but managed to make one seizure compared to South Africa with the largest -103 seizures (equivalent to 2,399Kgs).
This was equivalent to five kilograms with two whole horns seized in that duration.
In a range of 10 years (2010-2020) the report showed Rwanda having implicated in one seizure, and a total of 9Kgs seized including 7 whole horns.