Poaching and illegal trade in rhinos have declined in recent years, but remain a serious threat to their survival, AFP reported, citing the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
According to a report published by the Switzerland-based organization, from 2018 to 2021, 2,707 rhinos on the African continent, 90 percent of them in South Africa, fell victim to poachers.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the rhino poaching rate on this continent reached 2.3 percent in 2021, compared to 3.9 percent in 2018. This rate has been steadily declining since a peak of 5.3 per cent in 2015
“The overall decline in rhino poaching is encouraging, but it remains a significant threat to the survival of these iconic animals,” said Sam Ferreira, a rhino specialist in Africa, quoted in an IUCN statement.
Statistically, 2020 represented an “unusual” year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, when lockdowns and restrictions on trade and travel led to a decrease in poaching. However, the report highlights that these restrictions are likely to have also had an impact on law enforcement by reducing surveillance of protected areas.
“While we cannot say with great confidence what impact the Covid-19 restrictions have had on the rhino horn trade, 2020 was an unusual year with low levels of both reported illegal activity and law enforcement and government reports.” emphasized Sabri Zain from the international organization “Traffic” for the protection of animal rights, which also participated in the preparation of the report.
“Continuous and consistent monitoring of illicit trade is vital,” insists the expert.
In 2021, poaching increased again in some countries, such as South Africa, where 451 rhinos were killed compared to 394 in 2020. However, the numbers are much lower than in 2015, when the country killed 1175 rhinos became poachers.
Overall, the African rhino population is declining by about 1.6 percent annually, from an estimated 23,562 individuals in 2018 to 22,137 at the end of 2021.
Over the same period, the total number of white rhinos classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature has declined on the African continent by almost 12 percent to 15,942 animals, while populations of the critically endangered black rhino have increased by just over 12 percent ( 6,195 animals).
At the end of 2021, there were just over 4,000 one-horned rhinoceroses (unicorns) in India and Nepal. In Indonesia, 76 Javan rhinos live in a national park and between 34 and 47 Sumatran rhinos in the wild.
According to the report, the populations of the one-horned rhinoceros (India and Nepal) and the Javan rhinoceros (a national park in Indonesia) increased by 3.7 percent and 4.4 percent respectively annually between 2017 and 2021. While during the same period, the number of Sumatran rhinos (Indonesia) has declined at an alarming rate of 13 percent per year.
The survival of the rhino is on the agenda of the upcoming 19th meeting of the International Conference on Endangered Species (CITES), which will be organized in November in Panama.
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