Across the globe the numbers of rhino are decreasing, due to high levels of poaching. It is a shocking fact that three of the five species of rhino are Critically Endangered – the black, Javan and Sumatran rhino. Rhino once roamed throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa, and are even depicted in cave paintings by early Europeans. However, since the start of the 20th century, when around 500 000 rhino roamed Africa and Asia, only around 27 000 remain in the wild today, in national parks and reserves.
Africa is home to two species of rhino, the Critically Endangered black rhino and the Near Threatened white rhino. But can you tell the difference between them? Hint – it is nothing to do with their skin colour. In fact, both are a rather steely grey.
The black rhino is shorter and more compact than the white rhino, and has a more defined forehead but the main difference is in the shape of their upper lip. The white rhino has a square lip and eats like a lawnmower, grazing on the short grass. The black rhino on the other hand, is a browser and can tackle long grass as it has a hooked lip that helps it to munch sideways as well as eat leaves from trees and bushes. So, black rhino are great at clearing the way in overgrown areas before the white rhino and other grazing species can move in to feed.
Peace Parks works closely with the South African government and its conservation management authorities, South African National Parks (SANParks) and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (Ezemvelo), as well as with Mozambique’s National Administration for Conservation Areas, to develop and implement practical ways to address rhino poaching. They enhance protected area support on the ground, with a specific focus on disruption through technology; harmonise policies, legislation and counter-trafficking activities, and focus on reducing the demand for rhino horn through awareness and behavioural change campaigns.
The good news is that through rewilding programmes by Peace Parks in vast, protected landscapes such as the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area, habitat loss and poaching are being tackled and populations of rhino, and other species, can slowly begin to recover.