Historically, today’s five surviving rhino species once roamed across much of Africa, the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and southern China. As recently as 1800, they could probably have been counted in their hundreds of thousands, if not millions. Today, their range and numbers have been greatly reduced. Estimates now place the global population at fewer than 25,000, down from a recent high of around 30,000. This drastic drop results from the ongoing poaching crisis with its epicenter in South Africa.
Where Rhinos Live
THE RHINO COUNTRIES
The following map outlines the countries in Africa and Asia where rhinos currently live, including their population estimates and trends. Further maps detail the historical and current distribution for each species. To view these, click on the individual species names above.
Black Rhino – 5,495. Trend ↑
Indian Rhino – 3,588. Trend ↑
Javan Rhino – 68. Trend ↑
Sumatran Rhino – 78. Trend ↑
Total all species – 27,297 ↓
Although the global population of rhinos decreased by some 1,666 from an estimated 28,963 at the end of 2015, this is almost entirely due to the major decline in White Rhino numbers in South Africa. For the rest of the world there has been an encouraging upward trend (or at least a stable situation) for all populations of all species. Although poaching levels in South Africa have leveled and have even dropped in recent years, the situation remains very serious. Notwithstanding the losses in South Africa and elsewhere due to poaching, when compared with the global total of 20,800 for all rhinos in 2008, there has been an overall population growth of some 8,160 over the intervening years, an increase of just under 40 per cent.
White Rhino population – 15,625. Trend ↓
Black Rhino population – 2,046. Trend ↑
Although by 2012, the current poaching crisis was well under way, South Africa’s White Rhinos continued to increase, but the rate of killing, which reached a combined high of some four rhinos a day in 2014, soon took its toll and by the following year numbers were in decline. The country’s flagship conservation area, the Kruger National Park, was badly ravaged by poaching, and to some extent by drought: the total number of White Rhinos in the park in 2010 was some 10,621, but by the end of 2016 the population had fallen to between 6,649 and 7,830 individuals. A feature of rhino conservation in South Africa is the large numbers of Black and particularly White Rhino held by private owners. Some 330 private game reserves sprawl across nearly 8,000 square miles (more than two million hectares), collectively making up an area equal to the size of Kruger National Park. They are home to some 6,300 rhinos or 35 per cent of the national population.
White Rhino population – 975. Trend ↑
Black Rhino population – 1,857. Trend ↑
Namibia is the last remaining stronghold of the Southern Black Rhino D. b. bicornis that historically ranged across much of southern Africa. Possibly a few remain in southern Angola. Prior to 2013 poaching was minimal but from 2014 through to 2017 there was an upsurge of killing and the country lost some 242 rhinos (White and Black) during this period. That the country did not lose more of its rhinos was possibly due its low and widely dispersed human population and the strong involvement or communities in wildlife conservation.
White Rhino population – 452. Trend ↑
Black Rhino population – 50. Trend ↑
By the 1980s, Botswana had experienced a complete collapse of both its Black and White Rhino populations. By 1992 fewer than 19 White Rhino remained in the wild, while the black rhino was classified ‘Locally Extinct’. Since the early 2000s, however, collaboration between South Africa and Botswana, together with commitment from safari companies has seen a vigorous and successful translocation program and both species are now beginning to flourish once more.