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Rhino Poaching Statistics

Hundreds of thousands of rhinoceros populated Africa and Asia at the beginning of the twentieth century even after centuries of demand for rhino horn from the Middle East, India, China, and eventually the West. Today illegal hunting accounts for the vast majority of rhinoceros deaths and poaching throughout the Asian and African continents is largely spurred by demand from wealthy individuals in Asian nations eager to show off their financial success. But antique and gray market products of ambiguous age still thrive around the world as the price of rhino horn increases to more than $60,000 per kilogram ($1,700 per ounce).

The most recent thorough and comprehensive studies and census estimates suggest that there are estimated to be roughly 20,700 southern white rhino and 4,885 black rhino in Africa, including their subspecies, but as of 2018 the actual number is likely much fewer. South Africa’s Kruger National Park is home to 7,000-8,300 rhino as of 2016. The northern white rhino subspecies has been reduced to just two living in East Africa. The three species of rhino in Asia are also threatened by the demand for rhino horn as a symbol of wealth or to be used as part of traditional oriental medicines. As of the end of 2017 there are an estimated 3,333 greater one-horned rhino (Indian rhino), and at least 67 of the Javan species, and as few as 30 rhinos of the Sumatran species left in the wild.

Africa’s white rhino species is the largest of any living rhinoceros species, weighing up to 3,600 kilograms (7,920 pounds), and is the continent’s third-largest species after the African bush elephant and African forest elephant. The black rhino, which is gray, can weigh up to 1,400 kg (3,100 pounds). The lifespan of a wild rhinoceros is unknown, but expected to be 35-50 years for any species.

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Note: The statistics presented here are the minimum number of known animals poached in a given country, region, or park. Due to the immense difficulty in detecting and finding the remains of animals, it’s likely that ground and aerial surveys are unable to detect animals killed in densely forested regions or areas where scavengers quickly dispose of the remains. Some private properties, non-governmental groups, and governmental agencies may also be intentionally under-reporting poaching incidents in some regions. We have done our best to flag these regions appropriately.

PoachingFacts reports only the hard data; figures assumed or estimated by mathematical modelling will only be mentioned with specific qualifiers underscoring their inaccuracy and basis for estimation. Please also note that while rhino poaching statistics for 2021 are available for some countries, others may not release that data until the middle of the year or beginning of the next. For countries that release data regularly this information will be compiled and added to statistics featured on this page.


Botswana is presently home to roughly a third of Africa’s elephants and is a popular destination for tourists seeking the scenery of the ancient Kalahari Desert and the huge concentrations of wildlife in Chobe National Park. In the past Botswana has faced severe poaching problems and within the last several years has made significant investments in the protection of its wildlife. These programs include wildlife relocation to safer internal areas; translocation of wildlife from dangerous areas of South Africa by the Rhino Without Borders campaign; wildlife monitoring through governmental and non-governmental organizations; and strong support of its wildlife tourism industry. The country’s population of black rhinoceroses and white rhinoceroses were estimated to number 502 as of the end of 2017 (page 2). As of 2022, the total number of rhino left in Botswana had reduced to 265 according to an International Rhino Foundation report (PDF) released in September. A government report perhaps citing older numbers put the total rhino population at 308 individuals.

According to a government statement, from 2012 to 2017 only two rhinoceroses were illegally killed in Botswana. However in 2018, possibly due to crime syndicates from neighboring countries, rhino poaching increased to 7 in that year. From then on, several rhino have been poached every year in Botswana. From the 10 month period April 2019 through late February 2020 there were 46 confirmed rhinos poached. This represents roughly 9 percent of the population and is a dramatic uptick in the poaching of rhinoceros experienced in the country. The majority of rhinos were poached in Moremi Game Reserve, which is adjacent to Chobe National Park and resides within the eastern part of the Okavango Delta. A February 2023 government report claims that illegal killings peaked in 2020 at 62, then declined to 33 in 2021 and only 6 in 2022.


There are three species of rhinoceros in Asia compared to Africa’s two. While rhinos are typically depicted as having two horns, the rhinoceroses indigenous to India are notable for having only one. The species native to India is aptly named the Indian rhino, also called the greater one-horned rhino. Like the Javan and Sumatran species, Indian rhino populations have historically suffered tremendously from over-hunting and poaching. However their populations seem to be rebounding while illegal and unregulated surplus killing has historically been in decline. As of 2022, the government of India reported that the population of greater one-horned rhino rose to 4,014 individuals.

Historical Rhino Populations in India

Conservation efforts, including anti-poaching and stronger support for national parks, have helped to increase Indian rhinoceros populations (pages 7 & 8) in the country. In Kaziranga National Park rhino populations recovered from 366 individuals in 1966 to 1,855 in 2006. From 2006 through 2015 just under 200 rhinos have been documented as poached in India. Poaching has steadily decreased within WPSI’s areas of operation and data-collection since a peak of 41 in 2013 with just 13 illegally killed in 2017.

Rhino Poaching in India (2006 – 2017)

Source: WPSI’s Rhino Poaching Statistics, 2015-2018. BBC News 2015-April 2016.


Kenya is home to many national parks and national reserves that have provided a home to tens of thousands of elephants and hundreds of rhinoceros just a few years ago. The AmboseliTsavo East, and Tsavo West National Parks, as well as the Maasai Mara National Reserve, are among the most popular tourist destinations in the country and help bring in hundreds of thousands of local and international visitors each year. Many of these parks and reserves are protected by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), established in 1990, which employs anti-poaching rangers and other personnel to combat local wildlife poaching as well as cross-border operations to arrest major wildlife parts traffickers. These traffickers bring ivory, leopard skins, and rhino horn into the country with the express intent to smuggle the products to foreign markets.

In an inventory conducted by Kenyan authorities and external groups concluded on 27 August, 2015 Kenyan authorities reported that government-held stockpiles contained more than 1,248 pieces of rhinoceros horn weighing 1,519 kg (3,349 pounds).

A 2011 annual report by the Kenya Wildlife Service suggests that at least 27 rhino were lost in the corresponding year, however the figure for 2011 was stated as 29 in a 2015 annual report (page 30). It is the first time this higher figure appears and could be a typographical error. In a 2013 annual report KWS indicated that 59 rhino had been lost to poachers that year along with 302 elephants. The country is known to have lost at least 24 rhinoceros and 137 elephants to poachers in 2014. Fortunately the existing Black Rhinoceros populations have been recovering from past poaching epidemics through careful monitoring and translocation efforts. In 2007 they numbered 577 individuals and in 2009 had reached 612. The native elephant populations within KWS-monitored areas also appears to be growing according to 2013 census data which placed the number at 1,930, up from 1,420 in 2010. The total elephant population within Kenya was estimated at roughly 38,000 according to the KWS 2012 annual report, but has been revised down to approximately 30,000 in later annual reports.

Rhino Poaching in Kenya (2006 August 2018)

Sources: Kenya Wildlife Service Annual Report 2008, KWS Annual Report 2009, KWS Annual Report 2010, KWS Annual Report 2011, KWS Annual Report 2012, KWS Annual Report 2013,,, KWS Annual Report 2015, and KWS Elephant and Rhino Poaching and Trafficking Trends August 2018 (unpublished).


Namibia does not have a long history of publicly reporting poaching within its borders, but is home to one of Africa’s largest national parks and is also host to a robust tourist economy focused on its natural beauty and environment. Named after the Namib desert, the country is also home to desert-acclimated elephants and rhino within that region. In other parts of the country, several thousand rhinoceroses roam on private game reserves, conservancies, and state and national parks. Namibia is presently home to roughly 2,100 black rhino, a substantial portion of the world’s remaining black rhino population, and they are subject to many legal protections above and beyond that of other endangered species.

In the ten year period from 2005-2014 the then-Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) reported that at least 8 white rhinos and 95 black rhinos were poached. The Namibian Sun provided a narrower view of that time period, focusing on the period January 2012 – May 2014 in which the government recorded 10 rhinos poached. This included the October 2014 incident of a rhino poached in Namibia’s flagship Etosha National Park, the first documented rhino poaching incident in recent history. Subsequent reports for 2014 indicate that 25 rhino were killed that year. In 2015 the government initially reported 80 rhino were poached, but this number was revised to 91 rhino poached and then revised to 97, with most poaching believed to have occurred in Etosha National Park. At least 4 rhino were killed in the Kunene region during that same time period.

Reported rhino poaching for the year 2016 has become confused in official government reports. In the Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Tourism’s (MEFT) January 2023 report the year has been left out completely. It is possible that some illegal killings may have been attributed to the year 2015 by mistake, however PoachingFacts has worked through earlier sources to confirm the MEFT’s original reporting (see the section Namibia’s MEFT Rhino Reports ►). Older government announcements from that time period and confirmed that 80-97 rhinos were illegally killed during 2015. While one government report indicated at least 61 rhino killed in 2016, that number was later revised to 66, and other reports from that time period indicated there were 160 or 162 rhino killed in the combined 2015-2016 period. The data allowed PoachingFacts to extrapolate that at least 47 more rhino were killed that weren’t reflected in subsequent government reports. PoachingFacts has reviewed sources from 2015 and found that these additional illegal killings should be recorded for the year 2016, bringing the total to 113.

Along with the decline in rhinos killed, 2016 saw an increase in the number of arrests of alleged poachers and people in possession of rhino horn. Rhino poaching declined in 2017, with 55 killed that year, but by the end of 2018 the tally had surged dramatically to 84. In 2019 and 2020 rhino poaching saw two full years of decline, with 61 and then 43 rhinos poached in those respective years. However it’s uncertain how COVID-19 impacted assessment and reporting during 2020. MEFT’s 2023 report reflects that 45 rhino were poached in 2021, similar to the previous year. In 2022, rhino poaching surged to 87, with the Ministry reporting that 46 of these rhino were killed in the famous Etosha National Park. 25 of the 26 white rhino killed were poached on private game reserves and 15 black rhino were killed on custodianship farms, PGRs responsible for caring for black rhino borrowed from the state. In total during 2022, 61 black rhino were killed, accounting for about 70 percent of all rhinos killed that year.

The 22,270 square kilometer (8,600 square mile) Etosha National Park recorded its first rhino poaching incident in recent history during October 2014. Poaching within the park has increased since then and it remains the focal point of poaching in 2021 and 2022. As black rhino are property of the state, and primarily reside on public lands or on custodianship land, this puts the endangered species at the focal point of Namibia’s poaching. Private game farms, primarily home to white rhino, have also been targeted in greater numbers and the MEFT’s report released in 2023 emphasizes that fact.

Rhino Poaching in Namibia (2009 January 2023)

As-Reported Rhino Poaching in Namibia (2014 July 2021)

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Poaching Rhino 25 80-97 61-113 50-55 81-84 54-61 43 45
Arrests Related to Wildlife Poaching (Including Rhino) Data Unavailable 96 82 DU 48 DU 19 DU

Sources: Ministry figures from 2009-2014 are from; 2014-2016 data from and 2015-2021 revised amended with data reported by Reuters; 2015’s 91 rhino figure is from WWF; 2017-April 2018 data from Comprehensive 2018-2019 data reported by Reuters. Updated 2018-2020 data from 2017-2023 data amended from MEFT’s 2023 report.

Statistics Note: Namibia does not have a long history of publicly reporting poaching within its borders and has only recently begun reporting incidents by calendar year instead of government fiscal year. PoachingFacts is also reliant on various South African, Namibian, and international news outlets’ articles to keep a documented history of poaching statistics from a time before the government published this data online themselves.

In 2023 we were able to update figures with data matching up with whole calendar years, instead of fiscal years. Data presently reflected in charts and graphs are for entire calendar years and for data through 2019 include the most updated revisions to the poaching statistics presented by Namibia’s MEFT. This should streamline data processing for comparing incidents over similar time periods.

Namibia’s MEFT Rhino Reports

In July 2021 and again in January 2023, reports from the renamed Namibian Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT) significantly revised poaching statistics for recent years. These figures are more in line with reports from non-governmental organizations given at the time. All revised statistics from the Ministry, which continues to support trophy hunting policies, add to the number of rhinoceroses reported poached in any given year without changing their assessment of the value of trophy hunting as a conservation-funding tool.

These revisions to annualized statistics show that the MEFT is being thorough when applying their Rhino Management Strategy. Black rhino are often dehorned or translocated to an intensive protection zone to reduce the risk of poachers targeting them. This involves a meticulous process of having a specialist veterinarian dart the rhino, administer IV fluids, antibiotics, and vitamins to keep it from becoming dehydrated or sick, and then dehorn it before administering a reversal agent to wake the animal up. In some cases the rhino’s ear is tagged or clipped for future visual identification and blood is drawn for DNA analysis. This information is then stored in a database to later be able to identify individual rhino horns and trace their origin if the rhino is ever poached and its horn trafficked internationally.

To illustrate these revisions over time, view the chart below comparing official Ministry reports (this chart ignores statistics from independent sources).

Chart by Visualizer

Sources: 2014-2016 data from unless otherwise noted; 2015’s 91 rhino figure also from WWF; 2017-April 2018 data from Comprehensive 2018-2019 data from Reuters. Updated 2018-2020 data from 2015-2021 amended with data from 2017-2023 data amended from MEFT’s 2023 report.

Nepal – नेपाल

Despite its small size the country of Nepal has historically had an incredibly diverse ecology with excellent habitats for large mammals that today are rare. Unfortunately human-wildlife conflict (page 10), human- and livestock-encroachment on wildlife habitats (pages 10, 13), and severe poaching have had a significant impact on the populations of many of the larger mammalian species, including the tiger and greater one-horned rhino.

In recent years, rhino poaching is a rare occurrence compared to the 1970s, before the creation and expansion of Chitwan National Park, and then the period of insurgency further decimating rhino populations during the Nepalese Civil War (1996-2006). Since 2009 rhino poaching has dropped precipitously, with at least five 365-day periods without losing a single rhino inside Chitwan NP, but more comprehensive mortality data is unavailable.

Since the end of the Nepalese Civil War the rhino populations has shown sustained increases. In 2005 the country’s population of greater one-horned rhino may have declined to 375 from nearly 600 just five years earlier. A census conducted in 2011 reported 534 rhino across the country, a 42.4 percent increase from the prior census. As of 2015 the population was estimated to have grown further to 634 and by 2021 was 752, with the majority of rhino in the stronghold Chitwan National Park. However this population level concerns some ecologists who estimate Chitwan NP may not be able to support more rhino and that some rhino should be translocated to other parks in Nepal.

Nepal has been received many accolades from the international community due to its conservation successes and strongly reduced number of illegal killings. These successes are attributed to its government-lead anti-poaching and community conservation efforts. More rhino are being lost to natural causes than poachers and the country celebrates months and even years without a single rhino poaching incident. In early April of 2017 poachers in Chitwan National Park killed a rhino and made off with its horn. In April 2018 Nepal heralded 365 days without losing a rhino and maintained 41 months without a poaching incident until September 2020 when a rhino was killed.

Historical Rhino Mortality Data for Nepal (1998 2009)

Sources: Proceedings of the AsRSG Meeting, 2010 (page 11); IUCN.

South Africa

The Republic of South Africa has the largest populations of rhinoceros of any African nation. The famous Kruger National Park, an expansive 19,633 square kilometers (7,580 sq. mi) home to some 7,000-8,300 rhinoceroses, is among the largest poaching targets in southern Africa. The park’s intensive protection zones (IPZ) are estimated to be home to 5,000 rhino. South Africa’s Department of Forest, Fisheries, and the Environment (formerly Environmental Affairs) as well as the South African National Parks (SANParks) have historically released quarterly data on rhinoceros poaching statistics and arrests of suspected poachers; as of 2015 this data is released roughly twice a year and now includes elephant poaching statistics.

Data from the 1990s through the early 2000s show the very low interest in rhinoceros horn as either a trophy or folk medicine desired by the Asian market. It wasn’t until 2008 that law enforcement saw a substantial increase in rhino poaching incidents in public parks and private reserves throughout the country. This surge in demand roughly corresponds to the 2008 sale of 107,770 kg (237,592 pounds) of elephant ivory made to Japan and China (page 12) by southern African nations including South Africa. However the recent resurgence of Asia’s demand for rhino horn is thought have begun two or three years prior. Indeed, 2007 was one of the first years in which pseudo-hunts of rhino were arranged for Thai nationals in South Africa, sometimes with forged hunting permits. Read more about Organized Crime: South Africa ►

In a 2014 year-end report SANParks reports that 1,020 rhinoceros, of the black rhino and white rhino species, have been poached and 344 suspected poachers arrested. More recent, comprehensive data covering all of 2014 indicates 1,215 rhino killed in 2014 and 386 suspected poachers arrested. In the 2015 annual report SANParks stated that 1,175 rhinoceros were known to have been illegally killed throughout the country, a slight decrease from the previous year, and 317 suspected poachers arrested and 188 firearms seized. Of these, 826 rhino would killed in the flagship Kruger National Park. The remaining 349 poached rhino died in other parks or provinces, but it is believed the majority of poaching occurred in KwaZulu-Natal. As a result of administrative changes in the way that rhino poaching is reported by the South African government, data for 2015 is provided by official sources only as officially, but other sources have provided reliable statistics for specific regions over a limited period. Notably, 86 rhino were killed in KwaZulu-Natal between 1 January and 28 September, 2015. Rhino poaching in KZN has been steadily increasing almost every year since 2008, with 116 killed in 2015 and 161 or 162 killed (page 61) within the province in 2016. By the end of 2017 slightly fewer rhinos have been illegally killed compared to the previous year, with 504 occurring inside KNP and 524 occurring in other regions of South Africa, bringing the total to 1,028.

Throughout 2018 rhino killings continued their downward trend according to official statistics, where by the end of the year only 769 rhino had been reported lost to poaching, the first time since 2012 that fewer than 1,000 rhino had been poached in a year. Rhino poaching in KwaZulu-Natal dropped to 142 in 2018 from its peak of 222 the previous year. The first half of 2019 saw 316 rhinos poached throughout the country, 70 fewer than during the same period in 2018, suggesting a continued trend in reducing successful poaching incidents. However there was a worrying uptick in poaching in Gauteng province, historically with little rhino poaching, and an increase in poaching in Free State province compared to the first half of 2018. During the first half of 2019 there were 253 arrests nationally related to rhino horn trafficking or poaching, an increase in total arrests compared to 2018, but many of the court cases from the previous year remain unresolved due to a slow and flawed judicial system.

South Africa’s official poaching data for the first and second halves of 2020 showed an unprecedented decline in reported illegal killings of rhinoceros throughout the country. For the first time, the newly renamed Department of Forest, Fisheries, and the Environment (formerly Environmental Affairs), formally denoted in their report the number of rhino killed on private lands (16) compared to public lands (150). There are many factors contributing to an apparent decline in the number of rhinos poached during 2020. In late March the country experienced strict enforcement of curfews and a 21-day nationwide lockdown, which was subsequently extended for an additional 14 days, and a months-long state of disaster. The country again entered a strictly enforced lockdown at the end of 2020 that carried into early 20201. As a result of numerous health safety and precautionary measures, anti-poaching operations and scrutiny of wildlife crimes by law enforcement was reduced. Although a decrease in reported poaching incidents has been attributed to the COVID-19 crisis, it is not possible to evaluate the full impact wildlife crimes and anti-poaching operations during the pandemic.

The DFFE’s final report on rhino poaching during 2020 indicated a decline to 394 illegal killings throughout the year. Of those, 245 rhino were killed in Kruger National Park (KNP) and 2 were killed in Marakele National Park (MNP). All other regions of the country also reported a decrease in rhino killed for the year. Rhino poaching in 2021 increased notably to 451 killed throughout national parks and private game reserves, this further confirms a preference by poachers for KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) state parks and private game reserves over the comparatively fortified Kruger National Park. Private game reserves in KwaZulu-Natal, many of which are adjacent to or within driving distance of entrances to Kruger National Park, are increasingly targeted because they often lack support and equipment compared to rangers in KNP and Hluhluwe-iMfolozi (HiP). In 2021 the number of rhino poached in Western Cape, a province in the south-west of the country, rose to 4. Few rhinos live in Western Cape and from 2016 to 2020 there had been no reported poaching incidents. The increase in poaching on private reserves make evident a clear trend and the need for increased security and law enforcement as well as community education and alternatives to organized crime and poaching of high-value wildlife.

The Ministry’s February 2023 rhino report brought with it some unfortunate news about poaching in 2022. For the first time in recent history rhino poaching in state-operated and privately owned reserves within KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) exceeded that of Kruger National Park (KNP). Comparing the number of illegal killings in 2022, 244 in KZN and 124 in KNP, is dramatic on its own. With rhino populations dwindling in KNP, the reduction in illegal killings is of little consolation. Poaching on private game reserves declined in 2022 to 86 rhinos killed compared to 124 the year prior. However this high figure is still troubling because property owners have little incentive, and virtually no responsibility, to protect the wildlife on their land. While reported rhino poaching was largely reduced across South Africa during the year, these figures for 2021 and 2022 begin to make 2020’s figures look incomplete. PoachingFacts attributes this to a lack of patrolling and investigation of wildlife crimes during that first year of strict pandemic lockdowns.

Each of the semi-annual reports on rhino poaching in 2023 (first half and full year) showed an increase in illegal killings in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) compared to the same time periods the previous year (first half and full year). The reports for these two years also showed a trend of more illegal killings in the latter half of each year than in the first half. This may correlate to seasonal weather patterns more than anti-poaching and anti-trafficking practices, however the clear trend of accelerating rhino poaching in KZN is a major concern. If the DFFE claims are true that services and technology are partly responsible for cutting poaching incidents in Kruger National Park, which is no longer the hotspot in rhino poaching, then those techniques need to be deployed across areas that the South African government is responsible for. Notably, in early 2024 the DFFE credited several programs and technologies with countering the poaching crisis across Kruger National Park (KNP) including radar detection systems, access control systems for all individuals and personnel entering and exiting areas of the park, and the KNP Ranger Services Integrity Management Plan. Increasing attention should be paid to the substantial number of rhinos being poached on private game reserves throughout the country.

Notes on South African Rhino Poaching Reports: From at least 2010 through 2014 Marakele National Park (MNP) and Mapungubwe National Park (MAP) were reported individually. For the calendar years 2016 and 2017 data referring to “Kruger National Park” also includes poaching data on MNP and MAP. Due to the way South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA, now called the DFFE) reported their statistics, we expect this policy of reporting Kruger National Park to include all three national parks and have actually begun with statistics reported for the year 2015. In 2018 South Africa’s DEA again changed their reporting terminology and referred to all rhino poaching inside of national parks as “SANParks.” This intentional obfuscation of statistics (demonstrated here: NECER 2017, page 61) makes it more difficult to understand the full breadth of poaching in these smaller parks in the northeast of the country. Additionally, it becomes increasingly difficult to determine the origin of the poachers, whether they are cross-border foreigners or domestic. However it should also be noted that, according to what data is available from 2010 onward, reports of rhino poaching in MNP and MAP have been uncommon.

Rhino Poaching in South Africa (1990 – 31 December, 2023)

Sources: 1990-2005 data from TRAFFIC’s The South Africa – Viet Nam. Rhino Horn Trade Nexus report (page 69). 2000-2005 data corroborated by OSCAP. 2006 data from Int’l Rhino Foundation report. 2007-2010 data from SaveTheRhino News Release. 2010-2014 data from Media Release: Rhino poaching statistics 20 November 2014, South African Department of Environmental Affairs. 2014/2015 Statistics Source: RSA DEA Media Release 22 January, 2015, – South Africa Rhino Poaching at New Record Levels, RSA DEA Media Release 30 August, 2015, RSA DEA Media Release 21 January, 2016, RSA DEA Progress on ISMR February, 2017, RSA DEA Progress on ISMR July, 2017, and updated 2015-2016 data from RSA DEA National Environmental Compliance Enforcement Report 2017, RSA DEA Progress on ISMR January, 2018, RSA DEA Progress on ISMR September, 2018, RSA DEA Progress on ISMR February, 2019, RSA DEA Report on First Half of 2019, RSA DEA Report on Rhino Poaching in 2019, Save The Rhino 2019 South Africa Poaching Analysis, RSA DFFE Rhino Poaching Decreases in 2020, RSA DFFE Department Report on Rhino Poaching in 2020, RSA DFFE Creecy/Ranger and Rhino Report in 2021, 451 Rhinos Poached Across South Africa in 2021 (, International Rhino Foundation (10 February, 2022), Save the Rhino (10 June, 2022), RSA DFFE Rhino Report (Early 2023), RSA DFFE Rhino Report in August 2023, and RSA DFFE Rhino Report in February 2024.

Statistics Note: Some South African authorities list 7 rhinos poached in South African National Parks during 2000 and 6 poached in 2001. Data provided by TRAFFIC from official sources cites 12 and 9 during those years, which are used in the chart above. The TRAFFIC data may take into account illegally killed rhino outside of SANParks. Data from the year 2006 also has conflicting reports. SANParks totals 24 rhino killed that year while an Int’l Rhino Foundation report cites 36 killed that year, which likely includes poaching activity outside the public parks.


Below is a data-set relating to the time-frame of “Operation Stronghold,” which ran from roughly 1984 through as late as the end of 1993, but likely was concluded prior to the end of that year. The chart below also includes the earliest years of Zimbabwe’s “independence era” (when it’s alleged that no rhino were poached), which began in 1980 after the country (formerly Rhodesia) was formerly granted independence from the United Kingdom.

The chart illustrates the influx of poachers, primarily from Zambia, into Zimbabwe’s parks overseen by Zimbabwe’s Department of National Parks and Wild Life Management (DNPWLM, ZimParks). However the chart likely does not take into account the illegal hunting conducted by military and insurgent personnel during and after the Zimbabwe War of Liberation (also “Rhodesian Bush War” or “Second Chimurenga”) and related conflicts. Nor does it take into account the government-authorized poaching of elephants, rhino, and other species during the 1980s, which may account for the steep decline of black rhino in the country during that period (page 20). According to Killing For Profit and other sources at the time during 1984 and 1985, the first two years of “Operation Stronghold,” 29 poachers were killed and a further 22 captured, markedly higher than what are shown in the records below.

Read more about Environmental Crime Operations and Military & Corrupt Officials ►

Historical Rhino Poaching in Zimbabwe (1980 1993)

Chart source: The Rhino Anti Poaching War Rages On, October 2011.