Rhinos are one of the world’s most distinctive and beloved animals, but they are rapidly disappearing from the wild. Because of demand for their horn as a status symbol and in pseudo-traditional Chinese medicine as a supposed “cure” for cancer, the slaughter continues. All five rhino species are now threatened, and three of the five are critically endangered.
African Rhino species
Black: Critically Endangered
White: Near Threatened
Asian Rhino species
Javan: Critically Endangered
Sumatran: Critically Endangered
African: Around 24,000 total
Asian: Around 3,000 total
Tropical and sub-tropical grasslands, savannahs and shrublands and tropical forests.
Killed for their horn, which is falsely assumed to have medicinal qualities.
Rhinos are becoming increasingly rare in the wild. Historically, rhinos once roamed in large numbers across much of Asia and Africa but today only a fraction remain on the planet. It is estimated that African rhinos are killed at an average of three every day.
There are five species of rhino: three Asian, the Javan, Sumatran and Indian; and two African, the Southern White and Northern White. One of the “Big 5” game species, rhinos are easily recognizable by their large bodies, short legs and one or two dermal horns.
Photo by Paul Hilton for HSI (Left) Art Wolfe (Right)
Because of demand for these horns as a status symbol, aphrodisiac and a cure for cancer in pseudo-traditional Chinese medicine, coupled with a dramatic loss of habitat, all five species of rhinos are now threatened, and three of the five are critically endangered (Black, Javan and Sumatran species). In fact, fewer than 50 Javan rhinos and fewer than 200 Sumatran rhinos remain alive in the wild. White Rhinos are the most heavily poached for the illegal horn trade with more than 1,200 killed in South Africa in 2014.
Recent conservation efforts have made a difference in bringing some of these species back from the brink of extinction, but even the numbers of these species are a mere fraction of what they were just 50 years ago.
Although international trade in rhino horn has been banned – rhino horn is made of keratin, the same substance as your fingernails, and has no medicinal value – the demand for horn has remained high and poaching has not slowed. It’s up to us to step up and do something to protect these majestic animals.
Photo by Art Wolfe (Left)
States where we're fighting to protect Rhinos
KLCC: Measure To Curb Endangered Animal Poaching On Oregon November Ballot
August 8, 2016
Portland Tribune: Ballot measure would bar trade in parts from endangered and exotic species in Oregon
July 7, 2016
KITV: Governor Ige signs ivory sales ban into law
June 30, 2016
Washington Voters Overwhelmingly Approve New State Laws to Protect Endangered Species