• Protecting rhinos from poaching in South Africa

  • Protecting rhinos from poaching in South Africa

  • photo: Stop Rhino Poaching

    Protecting rhinos from poaching in South Africa

In Brief

Conservation Value:

South Africa is home to about 80 percent of the world’s ~28,000 remaining rhinos. Unfortunately, over the last decade poaching has led to rapid declines in the populations of the two species found in the country, the black rhinoceros (including the two subspecies, Diceros bicornis bicornis and Diceros bicornis minor) and the white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum). Today 93% of the world’s remaining white rhinos and 39% of world’s black rhinos are protected in South Africa. Approximately 25% of all rhinos are held within private reserves in South Africa.


Poaching of both rhino species is widespread across both state and privately-owned reserves in South Africa. The criminal syndicates that poachers deal with are often involved in other large scale transnational criminal activities that exploit gaps in the national law enforcement and criminal justice systems. In the face of continued protection efforts at reserves, the poaching threat evolves to outmaneuver anti-poaching efforts in protected areas.

Actions & Results:

The project is supporting select high-risk rhino reserves with strategic and technical advice, enabling the reserves to establish and refine their core anti-poaching and law enforcement capabilities. For each reserve this involves conducting a comprehensive security assessment, identifying and managing risks, and providing operational and technical advice. ICFC’s partner Stop Rhino Poaching (SRP) has formed a mobile operational unit and in April 2019 began working with select high-risk rhino reserves in South Africa to assist them in applying the best practices and technologies for rhino protection. Although COVID-19 restrictions on travel resulted in rhino poaching numbers being lower in 2020 than in 2019 (394 vs. 594), this still meant that a rhino was poached every 22 hours in South Africa in 2020. Over 62% of poaching losses occurred in Kruger National Park (KNP). To address this, the SRP surveillance (high-definition radar) operational unit was moved to KNP where it was deployed under the supervision of key staff from South African National Parks. SRP also travelled to eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) in 2020, to oversee a tracking dogs and handler training course and the deployment of a new SRP rhino tracking dog for Big Game Parks, which manages three game reserves in the country. Overall, SRP’s support to selected partner rhino reserves meant that despite loss of tourist revenue from the pandemic, critical security interventions were maintained and in some areas further enhanced.


South Africa, various rhino reserves


To reduce poaching of white and black rhinos in South Africa to promote the long-term survival of these species.

Project Field Partner:

Stop Rhino Poaching


2020 budget (ICFC portion): CA$91,200
Cost to ICFC in 2020: CA$348,261

This project is funded by the Elliott Family Foundation, to whom we are grateful for making this important work possible.


Click to enlarge an image

white rhinoceros ceratotherium simum (photo: SRP)
white rhinoceros Ceratotherium simum (photo: SRP)
white rhinoceros, Ceratotherium simum (photo: SRP)
rhinos (photo: Margo Welch)

In More Depth...

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