Two species of rhino in Asia - Javan and Sumatran - are critically endangered. A subspecies of the Javan rhino was declared extinct in Vietnam in 2011.
A small population of the Javan rhino still clings for survival on the Indonesian island of Java. Successful conservation efforts have helped the third Asian species, the greater one-horned (or Indian) rhino, to increase in number. Their status was changed from Endangered to Vulnerable, but the species is still poached for its horn.
In Africa, southern white rhinos, on the brink of extinction in 1900, now thrive in protected sanctuaries and are classified as Near Threatened.
But the northern white rhino subspecies is believed to only exist in a private conservancy in Kenya after the translocation of four individuals there from captivity.
Black rhinos have doubled in number over the past two decades from their low point of 2,410 individuals, but total numbers are still a fraction of the estimated several hundred thousand that existed in the early part of the 20th century.
Threats to rhinosDemand for rhino horn
Although international trade in rhino horn has been banned under CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora) since 1977, demand remains high - fuelling rhino poaching in both Africa and Asia.
Rhino horn is also used in Traditional Asian Medicine to treat a variety of ailments. There has been a recent surge in demand for rhino horn in Vietnam, where it is being touted as a hangover cure and treatment for terminal illnesses.
Habitat loss also threatens rhinos, especially in the rainforests and floodplains of Asia, as human populations rise and native vegetation is degraded or destroyed.
Important core conservation areas are increasingly isolated by logging, agricultural expansion, human settlements, road projects, and dam construction.
ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE
Typically, the horn is hacked from the rhino’s face with a chainsaw. The horn’s then airlifted away and sold by global criminal networks.
Within 48 hours its horn could be on sale in an Asian marketplace. Meanwhile, it may take a rhino the same length of time to bleed to death.
Learn more about Illegal Wildlife Trade.
Newborn rhino heralds Nepal’s rhino translocation success
Babai Valley in Nepal’s Bardia National Park welcomed its youngest one-horned rhino on 22 May 2016. The male calf was born to an adult female rhino that was translocated from Chitwan National Park to Bardia National Park on 3 March 2016. The then pregnant female was one of the five rhinos that were moved to Bardia in early March with the aim of creating a second viable population in the western complex of Nepal’s Terai Arc Complex, an area containing Bardia National Park and Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve.
The newborn rhino is a sign of hope and inspiration for Nepal’s rhino conservation efforts. It’s encouraging to see all the five translocated rhinos and the newborn adapting well in their new home in Babai Valley, which once lost its entire rhino population to poaching. With ongoing conservation partnerships between government agencies, conservation agencies and local communities, Nepal could well be on its way to build a secure future for this iconic species.
On 2 May 2016, Nepal celebrated two years since its last rhino was poached in Nepal – This is the first time that Nepal has achieved two consecutive years of zero poaching, which has helped to increase its population of greater one-horned rhinos to 645, the highest recorded number in the country so far.
What WWF is doing for rhinos
We work with governments, local communities and other NGOs to improve the conservation and management of rhinos by restoring and connecting suitable areas of habitat, improving biological monitoring, sharing expertise, and building the skills and capacity of people working with rhinos.
Our work also involves implementing proactive anti-poaching to stop illegal trade.
We also work to identify suitable habitats that are safe from poaching, into which rhino populations can expand.