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African white rhino numbers see a rise for the first time in a decade thanks to protection efforts

Efforts of authorities bear fruits, as rhino populations enjoy a healthy increase after steadily dwindling for over a decade.

African white rhino numbers see a rise for the first time in a decade thanks to protection efforts
Cover Image Source: Facebook/IUCN

Humans often fail to understand that the planet is meant to be shared. As a civilization, we have progressed much faster than anybody ever anticipated, but there are certain principles of the planet that we just cannot break. There is an ecosystem in place, which is necessary for the survival of human civilization. This ecosystem will remain intact only if the wildlife within it are present in the world in healthy numbers. But humans, through their actions, have damaged the wildlife population, specifically animals like Rhinos, for their selfish benefit.

According to the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation—human actions, like illegal wildlife trade, habitat loss and climate change—have played a major role in dwindling the Rhino population. It has had a visible impact on the ecosystem. In order to combat this damaging consequence, there has been an active effort from authorities to safeguard Rhinos. These efforts have bore fruits, as for the first time in a decade Africa's white rhino population has shown a positive increase, reports ABC News.

Representative Image Source: Pexels/Photo by Magda Ehlers
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Magda Ehlers

Though poaching activities do not seem to die down, African rhino populations are enjoying an increase in numbers, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The black rhino population has increased by 4.2%, while the white rhino population has increased by 5.6%. It implies that the initiatives undertaken by the authorities in terms of protection and biological management have been effective. The last time the white rhino population showcased an increase was almost a decade back in 2012. At present, the species classification in the IUCN's Red List is "near threatened."



 

Dr. Michael Knight, chair of the IUCN's Rhino Specialist Group (AfRSG), was happy regarding this development, "With this good news, we can take a sigh of relief for the first time in a decade. However, it is imperative to further consolidate and build upon this positive development and not drop our guard."



 

The protection of Rhino was and remains a huge concern because of how quickly their numbers have deteriorated. World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has noted that at the beginning of the 20th century, there were 500,000 rhinos in Africa and Asia. Later, the number reached 23,290 by 2022, according to IUCN. It showcases how vulnerable they have been due to human actions, mainly hunting and poaching. Saving Rhinos is crucial as their well-being is connected to other species in their ecosystem. This was reiterated by Nina Fascione, Executive Director at the International Rhino Foundation, who said: "The growing rhino populations are a testament to the effectiveness of collaborative conservation efforts throughout Africa and the resilience of these species."

Representative Image Source: Pexels/ Photo by  Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz

Even though authorities have increased protection, poaching has not died down. It continues to be the biggest threat to Rhinos. Due to the intervention, poachers have now begun targetting susceptible populations. Poachers have turned their eyes to South Africa, which has been facing relentless attacks on their Rhino population. As a result, they have also had to increase measures in areas like Kruger National Park. After finding it difficult to have an incursion in large reserves like Kruger, poachers turned to smaller areas like the province-run Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve. It showcases the need for collaborative efforts when it comes to protecting species.


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Kruger National Park (@krugernationalpark)


 

The U.S. Department of the Treasury is also concentrating on coming together, as the U.S. treasury secretary announced a joint effort by the U.S. and South African governments to deal with poaching. They have also agreed to put funds together to aid legal enforcement agencies in catching the poachers. Equal attention should be given to climate change, as its effects continue to bring humans and rhinos nearby, which is not at all a good sign for the rhino population.

"Competition over water resources may also cause increasing strife and disruption between communities and between humans and wildlife, bringing people in ever closer contact with rhinos," says the International Rhino Foundation (IRF). "Poverty resulting from loss of crops and livestock may lead to increased poaching as a way to earn income."

Representative Image Source: Pexels/Photo by john mckenna
Representative Image Source: Pexels | John McKenna

"Continuing a positive population trend for both black and white rhinos will require enormous efforts by governments, land managers, community members, and others to ensure conservation actions surpass poaching," said Fascione. "Rhinos have been around for millions of years—we cannot let them go extinct on our watch."

Moreover, the African Parks Foundation has put in place a decade-long plan for rewilding Rhinos. The first step as they announced, is to release 2,000 of them into the wild, which will reportedly be facilitated in the world's largest private captive rhino farms, Platinum Rhino.

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