On September 22 each year we show respect to the planet’s rhino population on World Rhino Day – an occasion that gives the opportunity for cause-related organizations, NGOs, zoos, and members of the public to celebrate rhinos in their own unique ways.
Rhino are still facing existential threats in many parts of Africa – South Africa, for one, has lost half its rhino population since the incessant poaching crisis escalated in this country over the past five years. However, despite these substantial losses, and relentless poaching, there have also been several restoration success stories too. Wilderness Safaris is proud to help aid rhino conservation in three African countries, namely Botswana, Namibia and Rwanda.
In southern Africa, Wilderness Safaris aids in the conservation of two sub-species of black rhino. Namibia’s Damaraland region has become a stronghold for south-western black rhino (Diceros bicornis bicornis). Back in 2003, Wilderness Safaris joined forces with Save the Rhino Trust Namibia and local conservancies, Torra, Sesfontein and Anabeb, to ensure the survival of this arid-adapted sub-species. Community conservation in Namibia grew out of the recognition that wildlife has value, and that this value can be unlocked if local communities are empowered to manage and utilize these resources themselves. The result after so many years of dedication has been the sustained increase in range of desert-adapted black rhino, as well as the overall population.
2014 was a milestone for Wilderness Safaris – and Botswana’s rhino population – when the company, together with our government partners (Botswana and South Africa), numerous generous donors, trade partners, guests and NGOs, succeeded in moving a significant number of south-central black rhino (Diceros bicornis minor) from South Africa to northern Botswana. While this population has had its setbacks, the fight and population recruitment successes continue.
A Rwandan conservation success story has been the reintroduction of eastern black rhino (Diceros bicornis michaeli) back to the tropical savannahs of Akagera National Park. After an initial founding population was translocated in 2017, a further five animals of the same sub-species were moved in 2019. In this historic move, the rhino came from Safari Park Dvůr Králové in the Czech Republic. The translocation was a joint undertaking with the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and African Parks, to increase Akagera’s existing rhino population and increase the gene pool. Subsequent to their release this population has been doing well and a dedicated team of trackers monitors them daily. Wilderness Safaris is also proud to play a supporting role in terms of monitoring this rhino population in Akagera.
Today, over 90% of black rhino are found in just four countries: South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Kenya, with smaller populations in Botswana, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi and Swaziland. Black rhino are classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Between 1970 and 1990, 96% were lost to poaching. By the early 1990s, the global population had plummeted to fewer than 2 500. Today, there are around 5 000 black rhino in the wild, thanks to ongoing and tireless conservation efforts by various organizations.
Many of these rhino conservation successes could not have been possible without our valued guests and donors. You can help save Africa’s rhino by making a much-needed donation to the Wilderness Wildlife Trust.