Fluctuating Rhino Poaching Numbers: A Cause for Concern?

A number of recent reports across Africa have shone a spotlight on the state of rhino poaching on the continent. With varying trends across several African countries, how concerned should we be?

Rhino Family, Credit: Martin Harvey
  • Namibia’s rhino poaching has been on the rise 
  • Botswana has seen a spike in rhino poaching for the past 5 years
  • Rhino poaching has decreased in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, but losses are on the rise in KwaZulu-Natal province 
  • Kenya achieved zero rhino poaching incidents in 2022 

Namibia’s rhino poaching numbers have nearly doubled in the past year. In 2021, 45 rhinos were poached compared to 87 (61 black rhinos and 26 white rhinos) lost in 2022. The Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism spokesperson, Romeo Muyunda, commented; “We note with serious concern that our flagship park, Etosha National Park, is a poaching hotspot”. 

Despite reports of six rhinos poached in 2022 in Botswana, a different image is painted looking back at the past five years, where a total of 138 rhinos were lost. This comes as a drastic comparison to 2012 – 2017 figures, where only two rhinos were lost to poaching. 

The rhino stronghold of Kruger National Park in South Africa lost 124 rhinos experienced a 40% decrease in rhinos poached last year, yet 124 rhinos were still lost. Further reports suggest that rhino poaching in South Africa may have shifted to KwaZulu-Natal province where a total of 244 rhinos were poached last year, with the Hluhluwe–iMfolozi National Park an apparent hotspot. Poaching has doubled across the province over the past year, after 102 rhinos were lost in 2021. 

Kenya had a successful year, achieving zero poaching incidents in 2022, making it the second time in five years that they have had this result. Kenya has the 3rd highest rhino population in Africa with an estimated 938 black rhinos and 873 white rhinos.  

Despite some of the positive reports from some areas, Tusk is concerned to see that rhino poaching numbers are still substantial and that syndicates seem to be moving around countries to target vulnerable rhino populations. Philda Nani Kereng, Minister for Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism in Botswana states that there is a still an “increased demand for rhino horn in the international market, hence poachers”. 

Whilst population trends for white rhinos continue to decline, we will not stop in our efforts. Tusk is committed to supporting our project partners safeguarding habitats and wildlife – including rhino – though anti-poaching initiatives across Africa. Our Wildlife Ranger Challenge is meanwhile an industry leading campaign supporting and developing the rangering profession across Africa. 



South Africa’s Rhino Poaching Update

Namibia’s Rhino Poaching

Kenya’s Zero Poaching Incidents

International Rhino Foundation – 2022 State of the Rhino Report

Botswana sees a spike in Rhino Poaching


Image Credit: Martin Harvey

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