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Information & Statistics

Reasons for rhino poaching

  • Rhino horn has historically been used for dagger handles in Yemen and Oman, as well as in traditional Asian medicine. 

  • Used in powder form, it is believed to treat fevers or hangovers.  However, rhino horn is made of keratin, which is similar to the proteins which make up our hair and fingernails, and has been scientifically proven to have no medical benefits whatsoever.

  • The trade in rhino horn was banned in 1977, however there still continued to be some black market trade in the product.  More recently, it is an increase in demand from Vietnam which has fueled the boom in its trade, leading to the significant increases in rhino poaching in South Africa. 

  • Rhino horn is now an aspirational product to own amongst the middle classes in Vietnam as a sign of their wealth.  As an ornament, ground up in rice wine or even snorted as the latest ‘party drug’, rhino horn is the new equivalent of a shiny sports car parked on the drive as a demonstration of Vietnamese prosperity.

  • Rhino horn is now worth more than its weight in gold and rivals the street value of cocaine.  Poaching rhino horn and its trafficking across international borders has become a billion dollar business.

Rhino Species in South Africa

Southern White Rhino

(Ceratotherium simum simum)

  • The Southern white rhino is the largest of the South African rhino species and is the largest land mammal after the elephant. It is currently defined as ‘Near Threatened’. Its name comes not from its colour, but more likely from a misunderstanding of the Afrikaans word ‘weit’, meaning wide. It is also known as the square-lipped rhino.

  • The white rhino is a grazer that can weigh over 2 tons. It is grey in colour with a large body and head and a pronounced bump. It has 2 horns on its nose, with the front horn usually being the longest. It is an odd-toed ungulate (it has 3 toes) and has excellent hearing and sense of smell, but very poor eyesight.

  • Despite its size and weight, the white rhino can run up to 30 mph and they can live up to 50 years

Black Rhino

(Diceros bicornis)

  • The black rhino is the smaller of the 2 South African species and is ‘Critically Endangered’. It is a forager, with a narrow snout and a pointed mouth. With no actual colour difference between the two species of South African rhino, its name is believed to have been chosen to distinguish it from the white rhino.

  • Weighing around 1 ton, Black rhinos are generally known as the shyer and more aggressive of the species. It has a large body, but a smaller head than the white rhino. It has 2 horns on its nose with the front horn usually being the longest. It is an odd-toed ungulate, with three toes on each foot and has excellent hearing and sense of smell, but poor eyesight.

  • The Black rhino can reach speeds of up to 35mph and change direction quickly. They can live for around 30 – 35 years in the wild.

Reasons for Rhino Horn Trade