African Rhinos May Be Extinct In 10 Years Or Less, Experts Warn

It was only 150 years ago that more than 1 million black and white rhinos roamed the savannas of Africa. Since then, poaching has decimated populations across the continent.

By 1990, there were just 6,000 white rhino and 2,400 black rhino left in the wild.

Conservation efforts and a global crackdown on wildlife crime saved the threatened animals from the brink of extinction. By 2008, white rhino numbers in Africa had ballooned to almost 20,000 while the black rhino population nearly doubled.

It looked like a perfect comeback story, a narrative of hope and survival in the face of terrible odds, but then, the tale of the African rhino took a bleak turn.

According to a new report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the number of African rhino killed by poachers has increased for a sixth year in a row. At least 1,338 rhinos were killed illegally across Africa in 2015 — the highest number in almost a decade. Since 2009, almost 6,000 African rhinos have been poached.

Conservation efforts have resulted in a decline in rhino poaching in some parts of Africa, including Kenya and South Africa, the IUCN report said. But, “these improvements have been dampened by alarming increases in poaching over the past year in other vitally important range states, such as Namibia and Zimbabwe,” said Inger Andersen, IUCN’s director general.

In light of this disturbing trend, experts have warned that wild African rhinos may be extinct by 2026.

“If we continue with the current rate of losses, then I would estimate that within five to 10 years, all we will have is rhinos in very strictly controlled captivity scenarios and we will basically have lost the species in the wild,” Craig Bruce, a rhino specialist at the Zoological Society —> Read More