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BLACK RHINOCEROS (Diceros bicornis)

- the iconic species

Habitat fragmentation induced by poorly designed and avaricious human land tenure systems; ecologically unsound resettlement schemes; as well as illicit poaching triggered by the increasing demand for their horn in recent decades, have decimated black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) populations throughout their natural range in Africa. As a consequence, the species has registered an alarming 96% continental population collapse since the early 1970s. Today there are about 5050  black rhinos managed in state-, community- and privately owned properties. In order to reduce environmental risks (e.g. inadequate or alien habitat of inappropriate resources) and reinstate conservation flagships, the repatriation of black rhino within former range states remains the single most important priority of conservation plans to save the species. The demand for rhino horn is driven by the broadening middle classes in the Far East –, people desirous of buying traditional medicine made of pounded horn and other products.


Inconsistent legal frameworks, lack of transparency, increasing consumerism and wide-spread corruption – prevalent in these as well as the supplie (predominantly African) states – contribute to the flourishing of illegal markets. Strong political will in rhino range states and wide regional collaborations, e.g. SADC Regional Programme for Rhino Conservation (SADC-RPRC), are required for smooth intelligence gathering, effective anti-poaching and prosecution across trafficking routes (strong protection → better security). Regional collaboration also, enables applied research to take root and fill in the still blank areas of rhino ecology, which can – through meaningful, population-specific recommendations – guide chronically under-funded management bodies to operate in a more cost-effective fashion, made thus possible by informed decisions (applied scientific research → better conservation).


Where black rhino occur, they generate a preponderant proportion of park revenues (i.e. in most protected areas: ~ 7–14%), from which resource hungry rural communities, local wildlife authorities, eco-tourism firms and a whole bunch of dependent businesses benefit. Given the great demand for its horn, general vulnerability, low reproductive rates and the tremendous interest they stir in people, the conservation of Diceros bicornis is a top national and international priority.



You can read more about the conservation status of black rhino here:


© Krisztián Gyöngyi       I

Email: krisz@malawianrhinos.com    I

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