|Scientific Name:||Ceratotherium simum|
|Species Authority:||(Burchell, 1817)|
|Infra-specific Taxa Assessed:|
Rhinoceros simus Burchell, 1817
Two subspecies are recognized: the Southern White Rhino (SWR) C. s. simum in southern Africa, and Northern White Rhino (NWR) C. s. cottoni, with currently only one confirmed population in Ol Pejeta (a Kenyan reserve) that was created in December 2009 following the translocation from the Czech Republic of the last four potentially breeding NWR in captivity.
|Red List Category & Criteria:||Near Threatened ver 3.1|
|Reviewer(s):||Knight, M.H. & Adcock , K.|
The reason for rating this species as Near Threatened and not Least Concern is due to the continued and increased poaching threat and increasing illegal demand for horn, increased involvement of organised international criminal syndicates in rhino poaching (as determined from increased poaching levels, intelligence gathering by wildlife investigators, increased black market prices and apparently new non-traditional medicinal uses of rhino horn). Current successful protection efforts have depended on significant range state expenditure and effort and if these were to decline (especially in South Africa) rampant poaching could seriously threaten numbers (well in excess of 30% over three generations). Declining state budgets for conservation in real terms, declining capacity in some areas and increasing involvement of Southeast Asians in African range states are all of concern. In recent years poaching levels have increased in major range states South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya. Swaziland also recently lost its first rhino to poaching since December 1992. In the absence of conservation measures, within five years the species would quickly meet the threshold for C1 under Vulnerable, and potentially also criterion A3 if poaching rates were to further increase.
Two subspecies of White Rhinoceros are currently recognized, the northern and the southern, each having a strikingly discontinuous range. The Northern White Rhino used to range over parts of north-western Uganda, southern Chad, south-western Sudan, the eastern part of Central African Republic, and north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (Sydney 1965). The previous only confirmed population in Garamba National Park in north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo is now considered probably extinct as despite systematic ground surveys over probable range and additional foot patrols and aerial reconnaissance no live rhinos have been seen since 2006 and no fresh sign since 2007. There have been unconfirmed reports of rhino in southern Sudan, and surveys are planned. The last four potential breeding Northern White Rhino in captivity in Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic have been translocated to a private conservancy in Kenya in the hope this will stimulate their breeding. These animals form the only current confirmed population.
While Kenya has not been a White Rhino range state in the last two hundred years; evidence from fossils and cave paintings in Kenya and northern Tanzania suggests that the White Rhinoceros, presumably similar to the northern race (C. s. cottoni), was widespread and a part of the East African savanna fauna until 3,000 years ago or less (M. Leakey pers. comm.), when it was probably displaced by pastoralists who could easily kill such tame animals (Brett RA [ed] 1993). This is based on the White Rhino subfossil documented by Maeve Leakey from 3,000 year from Rift Valley (Lake Nakuru area). Thus at one stage Kenya was once a White Rhino range state (subspecies unknown) and hence the White Rhino as a species but not C. s. simum as a subspecies has probably been reintroduced to Kenya (with the latter being an introduction of a probable out of range subspecies). A recent report of a white rhino hunting trophy from Kenya in an Austrian Museum still has to be confirmed but merits further investigation.
Note: At the request of certain members and countries, the IUCN SSC African Rhino Specialist Group (AfRSG) has a policy of not releasing detailed information on the whereabouts of all rhino populations for security reasons. For this reason, only whole countries are shaded on the map.
Possibly extinct:Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; South Sudan; Sudan
Regionally extinct:Central African Republic; Chad
Reintroduced:Botswana; Kenya; Mozambique; Namibia; Swaziland; Uganda; Zimbabwe
|Range Map:||Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.|
As of 31 December 2010, there were an estimated 20,170 White Rhino in the wild (see Table 1 in the attached pdf). As of Dec 2008 there were an estimated 750 in captivity worldwide. The majority (98.8%) of White Rhino occur in just four countries (South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Kenya) (AfRSG data 2011).
|Habitat and Ecology:||The species is found in grassland in bushveld savanna habitats.|
|Use and Trade:||Horn from poached animals in the wild and in some cases stolen or illegally sold from horn stockpiles/private trophies/museum exhibits. “Psuedohunting” where sport hunting has been undertaken by individuals from non-traditional hunting countries has also probably been responsible for some of the illegal horn getting onto the market. Live specimens for translocation invariably taken from natural habitat, but many wild populations require regular removals to prevent “overstocking” and maintain rapid population growth rates.|
One of the main threats to the population is illegal hunting (poaching) for the international rhino horn trade. Rhino horn has two main uses: traditional use in Chinese medicine, and ornamental use (for example, rhino horn is a highly prized material for making ornately carved handles for ceremonial daggers (jambiyas) worn in some Middle East countries). Until recently, at the continental species level, poaching of White Rhinos has not had a serious impact on overall numbers of White Rhinos in Africa, with poaching losses in parts of the range being surpassed by encouraging growth rates in others. From detected and reported figures, the annual average poaching incidents during 2003 to 2005 represented just 0.2 % of the total number of White Rhinos at the end of 2005 (Emslie et al. 2007). However poaching levels have increased dramatically in recent years (Milliken et al. 2009).
However poaching has escalatated dramatically in recent years in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya in response to significant increases in black market prices for horn. For example the total numbers of rhinos poached annually in the major range state South Africa has increased from 13, to 83, 122, 333 and 448 over the period 2007-2011. At the time of writing the rate of poached has continued to increase in 2012 with projections of the numbers poached in South Africa could reach 600 by the end of 2012. While still less than the net growth in numbers due to breeding the continued escalation in poaching threatens to soon reverse the gains achieved if it cannot be stalled or reversed. If current trends continue numbers in South Africa could start to decline by 2016. As a proportion of total numbers poaching levels in the major range states have been highest in Zimbabwe. As described above the significantly increased and escalating poaching, increased protection costs, declining live sale prices and reduced incentives are leading to increasing numbers of private owners in South Africa seeking to get rid of their rhino. If this worrying trend continues this threatens to reverse the expansion of range and has the potential to also significantly reduce conservation budgets (due to declining live sales).
Poaching and civil wars in both Democratic Republic of the Congo and neighbouring Sudan have had a devastating impact on Northern White Rhino. Whilst poaching pressure initially increased during civil unrest and war in the late 1990s, good reproduction enabled the population to remain relatively stable. However, since 2003, poaching escalated and the population declined rapidly with 11 carcasses found in a three-month period between March and May 2004. Confirmed numbers of Northern White Rhino fell from 30 individuals in April 2003 to just four in August 2005. No live rhino have been seen since 2006 or signs of live rhino (spoor or dung) reported since 2007 despite intensive systematic foot surveys. It is believed that the Northern White Rhino has probably gone extinct in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Effective field protection of rhino populations has been critical. Many remaining rhino are now concentrated in fenced sanctuaries, conservancies, rhino conservation areas and intensive protection zones where law enforcement effort can be concentrated at effective levels. Monitoring has also provided information to guide biological management decision-making aimed at managing rhino populations for rapid population growth. This has resulted in surplus animals being translocated to set up new populations both within and outside the species’ former ranger. However increasing black market prices for rhino horn, and increased poaching of rhino and involvement of criminal syndicates in recent years pose a significant threat to rhino populations. Increasing efforts are also being made to integrate local communities into conservation efforts. Strategically, White Rhinos are now managed by a range of different stakeholders (private sector and state) in a number of countries increasing their long-term security. In Southern Africa live sale of White Rhinos on auction (and limited sport hunting of surplus males) has also created incentives for private sector conservation and generated much needed funds which can help pay the high cost of successfully monitoring, protecting and managing rhino. Over 5,500 White Rhino across Africa are now managed by the private sector throughout Africa with the majority in South Africa (AfRSG 2011). However as discussed above incentives are declining while protection costs and risks have increased resulting in increased numbers of South African owners looking to get rid of their white rhino.
|Citation:||Emslie, R. 2012. Ceratotherium simum. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 21 December 2014.|
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