The western black rhino has almost certainly become extinct in the last few years. Act for Wildlife and our partners are fighting to save the eastern black rhino, now the most threatened of the existing black rhino sub species, from the same fate.
During the last century no rhino species has suffered more terribly at the hands of poachers than the black rhino. Around 96% of the population was lost.
The last few decades of dedicated conservation action have seen numbers slowly rise, however in the last few years rhinos are again being killed in the hundreds each year due to an increasing upsurge in poaching.
Now, we have to fight to save the eastern black rhino, or lose them forever. The latest estimates are that only around 700 of these animals remain in the wild.
Armed with snares and guns, poachers kill rhinos for their horns, which they sell on the black market for traditional Asian medicines, and for ornaments. And they’re getting smarter, better funded and more organised. They’re finding ways to remove the horn quicker to avoid being caught. In some cases, they don’t even wait for the rhino to die before hacking away the horn.
Poachers are ruthless, and being a rhino ranger or game scout is a very dangerous job. But thanks to intensive anti-poaching activity, and better community education, we have a chance to protect the remaining eastern black rhinos in the wild.
Chester Zoo works with several partners in East Africa to protect and manage important black rhino populations, and by supporting Act for Wildlife you can are also supporting these projects.
This weekend (13th December) sees the start of the 2014 Maasai Olympics in Kenya.
World Rhino Day celebrates all five species of rhino: black, white, greater one-horned, Sumatran and Javan.