An overview of the conservation status of and threats to rhinoceros species in the wild

 
96                                                                          ELEPHANTS AND RHINOCEROS

Int. Zoo Yb. (2006) 40: 96–117                                      © The Zoological Society of London

An overview of the conservation status of and threats
to rhinoceros species in the wild
R. AMIN1, K. THOMAS1, R. H. EMSLIE2, T. J. FOOSE3, 5 & N. VAN STRIEN4
1
 Zoological Society of London, Regent’s Park, London NW1 4RY, United Kingdom,
2
 IUCN/SSC African Rhino Specialist Group, Box 1212, Hilton 3245, KwaZulu-Natal,
South Africa, 3International Rhino Foundation, 20 Pen Mar Street, Waynesboro,
Pennsylvania 17268, USA, and 4IUCN/SSC Asian Rhino Specialist Group,
Kondominium Taman Anggrek 3-23B, Jalan Parman. Slipi, Jakarta 11470, Indonesia
E-mail: Raj.Amin@ioz.ac.uk

This paper summarizes the recent status of rhino-       species (Foose et al., 1995) for the ecosys-
ceros species, as provided by IUCN Species Survival     tems they inhabit because their conserva-
Commission’s Rhinoceros Specialist Groups, and
describes some of the current conservation measures.    tion requirements, by default, encompass
At the time of writing there are c. 14 950 rhinoceros   those of other smaller species. If rhino-
remaining in Africa and c. 2850 in Asia. During the     ceros can be successfully conserved and
last decade conservation initiatives have achieved      protected within an area, then the other
notable successes; however, numbers of some species
and subspecies have declined over this period and
                                                        species in the area will also benefit. Before
three subspecies are close to extinction. The illegal   considering the status of each rhinoceros
demand for rhinoceros horn and the subsequent           species in turn, it is worth first examining
poaching this generates continue to pose a serious      the main threats to rhinoceros species
threat to rhinoceros populations worldwide. How-        worldwide.
ever, experience indicates that where anti-poaching
efforts are concentrated above minimum threshold
levels population losses as a result of poaching can
be reduced to a low and sustainable level. However,     THREATS TO RHINOCEROS POPULATIONS
not all populations receive sufficient protection and   Rhinoceros have been hunted for centu-
declining budgets of range-state governments for        ries as agricultural pests, for trophies and
field conservation are a major cause for concern. The
role of donor support is, therefore, becoming           meat, their skin has been used for shields
increasingly important. For some subspecies lack of     and good luck charms, and their horn has
adequate habitat protection rather than lack of suit-   been used in traditional medicines and as
able habitat is a major constraint for population       handles for ceremonial daggers (Emslie &
expansion and growth. Many rhinoceros popu-
lations in Africa are managed as part of bigger meta-
                                                        Brooks, 1999). Over the last century a
populations. However, sub-optimal biological            significant area of rhinoceros habitat has
management is also reducing population growth           been degraded or lost as result of land-
rates in a number of populations.                       management practices and human
                                                        settlement.
Key-words: conservation status, endangered species,
habitat, illegal trade, protected areas, rhinoceros,       Increasing poverty in many African
threats                                                 countries has often been associated with
                                                        war and civil unrest, and the associated
                                                        free flow of weapons has also had a neg-
Rhinoceros, like other charismatic megah-               ative impact on conservation efforts for
erbivores, require large areas to support               rhinoceros. For example, insurgencies and
viable populations. They act as umbrella                civil wars in Nepal, parts of Assam and
5
  Dr Tom Foose, International Rhino Foundation Program Director, died on 18 May 2006. One of the foun-
ders of the IRF and with a passion for rhinoceros conservation, Tom will be remembered for the enormous
contribution he made to the shaping of rhinoceros conservation programmes.
REVIEW: RHINOCEROS CONSERVATION STATUS AND IN SITU THREATS                                  97

the Democratic Republic of the Congo               parks in Africa and Asia have increased
have led to considerable reductions in             over the last 10 years. Evidence suggests
numbers in specific parks in recent years          that in order to be effective, anti-poaching
(Hillman-Smith & Ndey, 2005).                      efforts need to be concentrated above
   The use of large tracts of land for wild-       minimum threshold levels. Where this can
life conservation is under continued threat        be achieved, poaching invariably has been
in Asia and Africa, as demand for land             reduced to low and sustainable levels. For
for subsistence farming, cattle grazing and        this reason many rhinoceros are main-
commercial use, such as plantations and            tained in fenced sanctuaries or in intensive
logging, increases. Human population               protection zones within larger national
growth and rising unemployment add to              parks where manpower and resources can
the pressure for land. In particular, hab-         be concentrated at effective levels (Leader-
itat loss has had a significant impact on          Williams, 1988; Emslie & Brooks, 1999).
the Sumatran rhinoceros Dicerorhinus               In contrast, attempting to reintroduce
sumatrensis. However, many range states            rhinoceros into vast tracts of land without
still have sufficient land to maintain             the necessary budgets and manpower to
rhinoceros populations.                            protect them successfully is not
   Protection and conservation-manage-             recommended.
ment programmes for rhinoceros can be                 Rhinoceros poached in Africa and Asia
extremely expensive and beyond the reach           are targeted primarily for their horn but
of some range states. In both Africa and           in some cases the entire carcass is used.
Asia effective anti-poaching efforts and           However, the preparation and transpor-
management of rhinoceros can cost up to            tation of other body parts is difficult and
US$1000 annually for every square kilo-            in practice only the horn is taken from
metre of habitat (N. Leader-Williams,              most poached animals (E. B. Martin,
pers. comm.; T. Conway, pers. comm.).              pers. comm.). Well-armed poaching gangs
Declining government budgets in real               that cross international boundaries in
terms and, in some cases, declining                search of rhinoceros have also impacted
capacity, pose a threat to the continued           populations. While most of the profit
successes in a number of range states              from poaching goes to a few traders and
where population numbers have been                 middlemen, even the small amounts
increasing under effective protection and          earned by poachers are enough incentive
management strategies. Therefore, the              to risk fines, imprisonment or death. One
assistance of donor agencies is becoming           problem is a tendency of the press to pub-
increasingly important, as are attempts by         licize the high value of rhinoceros horn.
a number of range states to increase rev-          These are usually quotes of the final resale
enue for conservation through eco-                 prices for rhinoceros horn, which does not
tourism. In some southern African                  bear any relation to the much lower
countries rhinoceros contribute towards            amount poachers may get for whole horns
the cost of conservation through sustain-          (especially in Africa). This can send the
able-use ventures, such as ecotourism, live        misleading message to potential criminals
sales and limited sport hunting of old and         that there is a lot of money to be made
surplus 77.                                        from poaching, when the reality is that in
   The major threat to rhinoceros is the           Africa the rhinoceros are worth far more
illegal demand for horn and the poaching           alive than the horns are worth to
pressure that this trade stimulates. Over          poachers. There have been a number of
the last few decades poaching has been the         cases in Africa in recent years where local
main cause of decline in some areas. How-          dealers have not been able to sell horn and
ever such declines have not been universal         have in the end been caught in undercover
as populations in many well-protected              sting operations, where it became clear
98                                                                 ELEPHANTS AND RHINOCEROS

that the price poachers thought they could     2005 came from the Northern white
command was much higher than the               rhinoceros Ceratotherium simum cottoni
actual black-market price.                     (Vigne & Martin, 2006). Jambiya with
                                               new rhinoceros-horn handles have been
TRADE                                          found on sale openly suggesting that
There are two main uses for Rhinoceros         craftsmen have little reason to hide them
horn. It is carved to make ornate handles      because government inspectors are not
for jambiyas (ceremonial daggers worn in       doing enough to curb the trade (Vigne &
Yemen). Rhinoceros horn is also used in        Martin, 2006).
traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)                Even though the use of rhinoceros horn
(Martin & Martin, 1982; Emslie &               in TCM is now banned in most countries,
Brooks, 1999). Although the media              rhinoceros horn is still being traded
routinely claim that a major use of rhino-     throughout Asia. It has been suggested
ceros horn is as an aphrodisiac, this has      that in the late 1980s and early 1990s
been found to be largely a myth (Martin        rhinoceros horn may have been stockpiled
& Martin, 1982). Historically, the Guja-       as a speculative investment (Emslie &
rati in India did use rhinoceros horn as an    Brooks, 1999). With the increased imple-
aphrodisiac but following the increase in      mentation of domestic trade bans the
the price of horn this practice effectively    trade has gone underground and it is now
ceased (E. B. Martin, pers. comm.).            more difficult to monitor and assess levels
   Since the early 1970s Yemen has             of illegal trading.
imported the largest quantity of African          While some TCM practitioners have
rhinoceros horn, which is preferred to         identified a number of acceptable substi-
Asian rhinoceros horn owing to its larger      tutes, others believe that rhinoceros horn
size, thus allowing more jambiya dagger        is irreplaceable for the treatment of cer-
handles to be made per horn. Most illegal      tain, sometimes life-threatening, condi-
horn from eastern Africa has been smug-        tions. In TCM rhinoceros horn is used
gled by traders into Yemen. Africa’s           primarily for the treatment of ailments,
Black rhinoceros Diceros bicornis popu-        such as epilepsy, fevers and strokes. Many
lation fell from c. 65 000 in 1970 to 2450     pharmacists consider Asian rhinoceros
by the early 1990s. It is only in recent       horn to be more effective than African
years that Yemen became a party to             rhinoceros horn. Although African rhino-
CITES (Convention on International             ceros horns are bigger than the horns of
Trade in Endangered Species of Wild            the three Asian rhinoceros species, owing
Flora and Fauna) and has outlawed              to the greater rarity, smaller size and per-
imports of rhinoceros horn and exports of      ceived superior medicinal properties,
horn shavings to the East. Internal trade      Asian horn sells at a premium (Martin &
in rhinoceros horn was also prohibited         Martin, 1982). Clinical studies testing the
and the making of new rhinoceros-horn          efficacy of rhinoceros horn to reduce fever
jambiya handles was banned. Attempts           have concluded that it either had no effect
have been made to lower demand by              in rabbits (Laburn & Mitchell, 1997) or
encouraging high-value substitutes for the     had only a small effect when given in mas-
horn (e.g. agate: a hard, fine-grained semi-   sive doses to rats (But et al., 1990).
precious stone). For a time the amount of         Seizure of medicines containing rhino-
rhinoceros horn entering Yemen declined        ceros horn indicate that the majority were
(Martin et al., 1997; Martin & Vigne,          produced in China, with Hong Kong and,
2005). However, recent information indi-       more recently, Singapore acting as major
cates that Yemen remains the main recip-       holding centres for rhinoceros horn
ient of rhinoceros horn from Africa and        (Mills, 1997). Research by TRAFFIC has
the bulk of horn imported into Yemen in        shown that the principal consuming
REVIEW: RHINOCEROS CONSERVATION STATUS AND IN SITU THREATS                                   99

nations are South Korea, Taiwan and                AFRICAN SPECIES
mainland China, with manufactured med-             Of the five extant rhinoceros species, the
icines also being exported to expatriate           White rhinoceros Ceratotherium simum
Chinese communities around the world               and the Black rhinoceros Diceros bicornis
(Leader-Williams, 1992; Nowell et al.,             occur in Africa. Historically, the White
1992; Mills, 1997).                                rhinoceros had a much more restricted
   The issue of trade bans is controversial        distribution than the Black rhinoceros
because such bans have meant that rhino-           (Emslie & Brooks, 1999). Currently, three
ceros horn has had to be obtained unsus-           of the four Black rhinoceros subspecies
tainably by poaching and this may have             and one of the two White rhinoceros sub-
encouraged black-market activity. Some             species are listed as Critically Endangered
have argued that if this trade was legal-          on the 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened
ized, the legal stockpiles in some range           Species (IUCN, 2006).
states could provide a supply of horn
without killing rhinoceros; and that horn          WHITE RHINOCEROS
recovered from rhinoceros that die from            There are two distinct subspecies that
natural causes and routine harvesting of           differ greatly in their current conservation
horn from live rhinoceros could also pro-          status: the Southern white rhinoceros Cer-
vide much needed revenue for conserva-             atotherium simum simum and the
tion as well as creating a further economic        Northern white rhinoceros Ceratotherium
incentive for the expansion of rhinoceros          simum cottoni. The Northern white rhino-
range. This, in turn, would convey a               ceros is extremely rare and only occurs in
strong message that rhinoceros are not             one wild population of just a few animals
becoming extinct, which could lead to a            in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
drop in the black-market price of horn             (DRC) where recent surveys only con-
and thus reduce illegal demand and,                firmed a minimum of three animals sur-
                                                   viving following a major upsurge in
hence, poaching. However, many others
                                                   poaching since mid-2003, while the
are against re-opening a legal trade
                                                   Southern white rhinoceros is the most
arguing that the combination of inter-
                                                   numerous rhinoceros taxa, with its main
national trade bans under CITES and the
                                                   stronghold in South Africa (Fig. 1).
more recent imposition of domestic trade
                                                   Because of the spectacular recovery in
bans are starting to be effective in               numbers of Southern white rhinoceros,
reducing poaching and the trade bans               the species is no longer listed in one of the
should be given more time. Concerns have           IUCN (2006) threatened categories and is
also been expressed about whether any              rated as Near Threatened. The White
proposed trade could be properly con-              rhinoceros is also the only species where
trolled and, in particular, whether it             numbers now exceed the currently rec-
would be possible to prevent poached               ommended Minimum Viable Population
horn from being laundered and smuggled             (MVP) size of 5000–7000 individuals
into the market illegally. No range state          (Reed et al., 2003).
proposed any downlisting to trade in
rhinoceros horn at the last CITES Con-             Southern white rhinoceros
ference of the Parties (COP 13) and it is            Ceratotherium simum simum
highly unlikely that any such proposal             Once widespread in the bushveld areas of
would gain the necessary two-thirds of             southern Africa south of the Zambezi
votes needed for a downlisting. Thus, for          River, this subspecies was on the brink of
the immediate future it is unlikely that the       extinction by the end of the 19th century
trade in rhinoceros horn trade will be             having been reduced to just one small
legalized.                                         breeding population of c. 20–50 animals
100                                                                              ELEPHANTS AND RHINOCEROS

Fig. 1. Distribution of White rhinoceros Ceratotherium simum (as at end of 2003, updated from Emslie & Brooks,
1999).

in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa (Emslie                   rhinoceros numbers had recovered to over
& Brooks, 2002).                                         11 300 animals in 379 wild populations in
   The development of translocation tech-                eight African countries with a further 737
niques in the 1960s and subsequent annual                animals held in captivity (Emslie, 2004a).
removals has resulted in large-scale                     While Hluhluwe-iMfolozi National Park,
restocking of many wild populations (pre-                South Africa, currently conserves 1900,
dominantly in South Africa but also in a                 the largest population of 4900 is in
number of range states and some non-                     Greater Kruger National Park, South
range states) with hundreds more being                   Africa, and adjoining private reserves.
exported to zoos worldwide. Under pro-                      South Africa remains the stronghold
tection by the end of 2003 Southern white                for this subspecies, with 93% (10 540
REVIEW: RHINOCEROS CONSERVATION STATUS AND IN SITU THREATS                                 101

animals) of the total population as at the         victed offenders instead now face paltry
end of 2003. While the majority are still          fines. However, jail terms of 5–20 years
conserved in state Game Reserves (GR)              have been given in South Africa, Swazi-
and National Parks (NP), by 2002 a min-            land and Namibia.
imum of 2856 Southern white rhinoceros                Undercover wildlife investigations indi-
were owned and conserved by the private            cate that the demand for horn is still high,
sector in South Africa (Knight, 2004).             so there is no room for complacency.
Smaller reintroduced Southern white                Should the quality and intensity of field
rhinoceros populations occur in Bot-               protection efforts decline, poaching levels
swana, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland              could increase. Maintaining sufficient
and Zimbabwe. Out-of-range populations             budgets and field-conservation capacity
have also been established in Kenya,               will therefore be critical in the years
Zambia and most recently in 2005                   ahead. Declining budgets for range-state
Uganda (a former Northern white rhino-             conservation agencies and, in some cases,
ceros range state).                                declining capacity for field-conservation
   Kenya, Namibia and Zimbabwe are the             action are a major concern (Emslie &
only countries outside of South Africa to          Brooks, 1999).
maintain populations of q175 Southern
white rhinoceros. Together these ‘Big 4’
rhinoceros range states conserve 99% of            Conservation measures The Southern
the subspecies in the wild. Interestingly          white rhinoceros was listed on CITES
the same four countries also conserve 97%          Appendix I. However, since 1994 the
of Africa’s Black rhinoceros.                      South African population of Southern
   The Southern white rhinoceros is now            white rhinoceros was downlisted to
the most abundant and its numbers are              Appendix II but only for trade in live
greater than all the other taxa of rhino-          animals to ‘approved and acceptable des-
ceros combined (Table 1). This recovery            tinations’ and for the (continued) export
in only 110 years from c. 20–50 to                 of hunting trophies. In 2004 the Swaziland
q12 000 animals (including those in cap-           population was also similarly downlisted
tivity) represents one of the world’s              by CITES but with a fixed per cent upper
greatest conservation success stories.             quota for both live removals and the
                                                   export of hunting trophies. Trade in horn
                                                   is still banned under CITES and at the last
Threats to Southern white rhinoceros               CITES COP no White rhinoceros range
Illegal poaching for the international             states proposed downlisting to reopen a
trade in rhinoceros horn is still the main         legal trade in horn. To help reduce illegal
threat to the subspecies, although it has          trade and complement CITES inter-
been infrequent in South Africa. Poaching          national trade bans, domestic anti-trade
increased around the time of the inde-             measures and legislation were imple-
pendence elections and peaked at 26                mented in the 1990s by a number of con-
animals in 1994 but levels have since              sumer states. Effective protection of
declined (Emslie & Brooks, 1999; Knight,           rhinoceros populations has been critical
2004). In several range states a number            and many are now concentrated in fenced
cases of poaching have been successfully           sanctuaries, conservancies, conservation
investigated, resulting in convictions and         areas and intensive-protection zones
jail terms, which should act as deterrents.        (Leader-Williams et al., 1997; Emslie &
A major concern is a recent change to              Brooks, 1999) where law enforcement can
legal interpretation in Zimbabwe whereby           be concentrated at effective levels.
poaching of rhinoceros no longer results              Monitoring of rhinoceros numbers and
in a mandatory jail sentence with con-             performance has provided the necessary
102

                    white rhinoceros Ceratotherium simum                    black rhinoceros Diceros bicornis

                    cottoni       simum         total         trend         bicornis      longipes      michaeli      minor        total         trend

Botswana                              67            67        up+intro                                                   5             5         intro
Cameroon                                                                                  5*?                                          5*?       ?
DRC                 22†                             22†       down
Ethiopia                                                                                                  4‡                          4          ?
Kenya                                218           218        up                                        439                         437          up
Malawi                                                                                                                   8            8          up+intro
Mozambique                             2             2        ?                                                          0?           0          extinct?
Namibia                              186           186        up            1238                                                   1238          up
Rwanda                                                                                                    1                           1          down
South Africa                      10 536        10 536        up§             71                         36           1177         1284          up
Swaziland                             61            61        up                                                        15           15          up
Tanzania                                                                                                 42             24           66          up
Zambia                                 3             3        down                                                       5            5          intro
Zimbabwe                             250           250        up                                                       536          536          up

total               22            11 345        11 350        up§           1310          5?            520           1770         3610          up

* Extensive ground surveys are under way at time of writing to confirm how many (if any) Western black rhinoceros still survive. There is a chance this
subspecies may now be extinct in the wild.
† The minimum confirmed number in Garamba NP and surrounding hunting areas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was only three by the end of
April 2006.
‡ Diceros bicornis bruceii?
§ The figures given are from 2003 (state and defence-force areas) and 2002 (private, municipal, zoo and biosphere reserves).
Table 1. Numbers of White and Black rhinoceros in Africa as at 31 December 2003, presented by country and by subspecies (Emslie, 2004a). These numbers are
routinely updated by the AfRSG every 2 years and updated estimates for 31 December 2005 will be released after the AfRSG meeting in late June/early July 2006.
The table excludes speculative guesstimates. Subspecies totals q500 rounded to nearest ten rhinoceros. Numbers for D. b. minor in Tanzania, D. b. bicornis in
Namibia, D. b. michaeli in Kenya, D. b. longipes in Cameroon and C. s. cottoni in DRC may be higher but this requires confirmation. Numbers of D. b. minor in
Swaziland approximate to the true number. Other numbers compiled by IUCN SSC African Rhino Specialist Group at meeting in Kenya 6–11 June 2004; intro.
introductions.
                                                                                                                                                                 ELEPHANTS AND RHINOCEROS
REVIEW: RHINOCEROS CONSERVATION STATUS AND IN SITU THREATS                                 103

information to allow wildlife managers to          that conservation is a valid economic
focus on rapid population growth, which            form of land use and not ‘a waste of land’.
has resulted in a surplus of animals for
translocation and to establish new popu-
lations both within and outside the former         Northern white rhinoceros
range of the species. Increasingly attempts           Ceratotherium simum cottoni
are also being made to integrate local             The situation facing the future of the
communities into conservation efforts.             Critically Endangered Northern white
   While the majority of Southern white            rhinoceros is bleak (IUCN, 2004). This
rhinoceros live in South Africa, the fact          subspecies once ranged in large numbers
that this subspecies is now managed by a           throughout north-central Africa south of
range of different stakeholders (private           the Sahara. In 1960 there were c. 2250
sector and state) in several countries with        animals remaining but in the 1970s
significant numbers also in captivity              (Emslie & Brooks, 1999) and early 1980s,
worldwide, increases long-term security.           poachers reduced the number of Northern
   In Southern Africa the non-consump-             white rhinoceros from 500 to 15 surviving
tive (ecotourism viewing and live sales)           in Garamba NP, DRC. However by 1995,
and consumptive sustainable use (sport             under protection, the population had
hunting of limited numbers of surplus 77           recovered to 31. Civil wars in neigh-
since 1968) of Southern white rhinoceros           bouring Sudan and in the DRC led to an
has helped catalyse private-sector demand          influx of automatic weapons into the
for rhinoceros. By the end of 2003 it was          neighbouring region and an upsurge in
estimated that c. 29% (3252) of Southern           poaching. Nevertheless, for many years
white rhinoceros in Africa were privately          births in Garamba NP balanced poaching
owned. The commercialization of the                losses and overall numbers remained
                                                   stable.
Southern white rhinoceros has allowed
                                                      However, in mid-2003 there was a
formal state conservation agencies to
                                                   major upsurge in commercial poaching by
remove surplus rhinoceros, preventing
                                                   ex- or current Sudan People’s Liberation
overstocking in the populations and thus
                                                   Army (SPLA) members and other
solving       a     biological-management
                                                   southern Sudanese, often in collaboration
problem. At the same time this has gen-            with Congolese. The start of incursions by
erated substantial additional revenue to           well-armed groups of Arabic horsemen
cover some of the funding shortfall caused         from northern Sudan soon after this fur-
by declining state budgets for conserva-           ther compounded the problem (Hillman-
tion in real terms. On average the under-          Smith, 2004). By September 2004 numbers
lying growth rates of Southern white               had been reduced to c. 15 individuals but
rhinoceros populations on private land             a subsequent count revealed even fewer
have been high, contributing to the overall        rhinoceros and additional poached car-
growth in numbers. The movement of                 cases (Hillman-Smith & Ndey, 2005;
Southern white rhinoceros onto private             K. Hillman-Smith pers. comm.). Recent
land has also significantly increased the          intensive surveys in March 2006 con-
range area for the subspecies. The eco-            firmed the presence of only one adult 7
nomic value of rhinoceros has also been            and one adult 8, although since the sur-
used in some court cases to convince mag-          veys an additional adult 7 has been seen,
istrates that crimes against rhinoceros are        bringing the current known minimum
serious offences deserving of heavy deter-         number as at May 2006 to three. It is
rent sentences. Their value has also helped        hoped one or more additional animals
conservation-resource      economists    in        may still survive and further survey work
southern Africa to suggest to politicians          is required to clarify numbers.
104                                                                 ELEPHANTS AND RHINOCEROS

   In May 2004 ten Northern white rhino-         gency plan included increasing anti-
ceros were maintained in two zoological          poaching support to Garamba NP to
institutions; Dvur Kralove, Czech                counter the current high levels of
Republic (seven animals), and San Diego          poaching. Unfortunately before a pro-
Wild Animal Park, USA (three animals).           tocol could be formalized and signed by
However, most of these animals are old           the DRC Government, the translocation
and breeding has been poor (Hermes               fell victim to political manoeuvring and
et al., 2006).                                   national divisions. Conservation activities
                                                 in Garamba NP were obstructed and
Threats to Northern white rhinoceros The         finally suspended, leaving the remaining
main threat to this subspecies has been          rhinoceros defenceless for a period against
poaching as a result of political instability,   poaching (Fauna & Flora International
civil unrest and war. The small population       and International Rhino Foundation,
size, with only one confirmed breeding 8         Press Release, 7 April 2005). Since then,
and two 77 remaining, will limit popu-           Africa Parks Foundation has taken over
lation growth and increase the chance of         management of the Park in collaboration
the subspecies going extinct in the wild as      with the national conservation agency
a result of chance demographic effects           ICCN (Institut Congolese pour la Con-
and/or genetic problems in the future            servation de la Nature), and overall
(inbreeding depression). Despite improved        poaching in the Park appears to have
security since Africa Parks Foundation           reduced significantly.
became involved with Park management,
with so few animals remaining and the            BLACK RHINOCEROS
instability and general availability of          Black rhinoceros exist wherever herb and
weapons in the area, poaching threatens          woody browse occurs in sufficient
this subspecies to extinction in the wild.       amounts to support a population. This
                                                 spans a wide range of habitats covering
Conservation measures The subspecies is          deserts, semi-deserts, wooded savannahs,
included on CITES Appendix I. In 1984            woodlands, forests and even sub-alpine
the Garamba NP Project began with                heathlands. However, the densities at
rhinoceros conservation as its central           which Black rhinoceros can exist in these
focus. The increased protection afforded         habitats vary 100-fold, from one rhino-
by anti-poaching efforts in Garamba NP           ceros per 100 km2 in the desert plains of
allowed the population to double from 15         Western Kunene, Namibia, to more than
in 1984 to 30 by 1991. Since then there          one rhinoceros per 1 km2 in thicket vege-
has been a long-running civil war in             tation. There are four recognized subspe-
neighbouring Sudan and two civil wars in         cies of Black rhinoceros occupying
the DRC. In response to the recent               different areas of Africa (Fig. 2).
poaching, an emergency strategy to move
five rhinoceros to a safe sanctuary in           Western black rhinoceros
Kenya as a temporary measure was                    Diceros bicornis longipes
developed by the protected-area authority        This Critically Endangered subspecies
in DRC and a coalition of international          once ranged throughout the savannah
organizations in late 2004. The objective        zones of central West Africa but was
was to remove a small breeding group of          reduced to only a few scattered animals
rhinoceros and conserve them on a cus-           remaining in northern Cameroon with
todianship basis with the long-term inten-       some animals believed to be seasonal vis-
tion to re-establish the Northern white          itors to Chad. There are no animals in
rhinoceros population in Garamba NP              captivity and in recent years the status of
once the Park was secured. The emer-             this subspecies has not been adequately
REVIEW: RHINOCEROS CONSERVATION STATUS AND IN SITU THREATS                                             105

Fig. 2. Distribution of Black rhinoceros Diceros bicornis (as at end of 2003, updated from Emslie & Brooks,
1999).

known. At time of writing, extensive                    courts to give sentences that can act as a
ground surveys are under way to deter-                  deterrent to potential poachers, and
mine the status of this subspecies and,                 genetic and demographic factors all pose
indeed, whether or not any animals still                serious threats to this subspecies. Over the
survive.                                                last decade remaining animals have been
                                                        scattered in highly vulnerable small
                                                        groups that may not be in breeding con-
Threats to Western black rhinoceros                     tact (H. Planton, pers. comm.).
Poaching, lack of finance, limited anti-
poaching efforts, limited local capacity for            Conservation measures The Western
conservation management, failure of                     black rhinoceros is included on CITES
106                                                              ELEPHANTS AND RHINOCEROS

Appendix I. An action plan for Cameroon       into dagger handles (Martin et al., 1997;
was developed in 1993, following an inter-    Martin & Vigne, 2005).
national mission and workshop held at            Some populations of the Eastern black
Garoua in northern Cameroon, but this         rhinoceros in enclosed areas appear to be
was never implemented. A high-level stak-     overstocked and are showing clear signs
eholders workshop was held in Cameroon        of density-dependent reductions in repro-
in 2000 to discuss potential strategies to    ductive performance (Ouma, 2004). In
prevent the extinction of the subspecies.     some cases competition from other
Before fund-raising could begin it was        browsers, such as African elephants Lox-
agreed that there should be evidence that     odonta africana and Giraffes Giraffa
at least five Western black rhinoceros        camelopardalis, appears to also be nega-
remained. New surveys in 2001 failed to       tively affecting rhinoceros carrying
confirm and photograph at least five          capacity (Birkett, 2002; Brett & Adcock,
rhinoceros. Surveys are nearing comple-       2002). Limited budgets for conservation
tion to determine the status of this sub-     are also a problem.
species and whether or not it has gone
extinct.                                      Conservation measures The Eastern
                                              black rhinoceros is included on CITES
                                              Appendix I. Effective field protection of
Eastern black rhinoceros
                                              rhinoceros populations has been critical.
   Diceros bicornis michaeli
                                              Increasing efforts are being made to inte-
Historically this Critically Endangered
                                              grate local communities into conservation
subspecies ranged from southern Sudan,
                                              efforts. In Kenya, the major range state,
Ethiopia and Somalia through Uganda,
                                              Eastern black rhinoceros are now man-
Rwanda, Kenya and into north–central
                                              aged by a range of stakeholders from a
Tanzania (Emslie & Brooks, 1999). Its
                                              municipal county-council run area, to
current stronghold is Kenya with 458
                                              state-managed parks and fenced, well-pro-
rhinoceros as at the end of 2003, mostly
                                              tected sanctuaries, some of which are
within protected areas, sanctuaries in both
                                              managed by the private sector.
protected areas and on private land, and
                                                 National conservation strategies have
in a free-ranging population on county-
                                              also been implemented. Kenya’s revised
council land. Tanzania has c. 42 Eastern
                                              rhinoceros conservation strategy has
black rhinoceros, mostly in free-ranging
                                              placed increased priority on improved
populations in unfenced protected areas
                                              monitoring and biological management
and a few in one sanctuary. Rwanda and
                                              for rapid metapopulation growth fol-
Ethiopia hold relict populations of one
                                              lowing lower than average increases in
and two to four animals, in a protected
                                              recent years. The Kenyan Darwin Initia-
area and on community land, respectively.
                                              tive project has implemented these key ele-
At the end of 2003 South Africa had c. 36
                                              ments and the national population
Eastern black rhinoceros of pre-
                                              estimates over 2004 and 2005 have shown
dominantly Kenyan origin maintained on
                                              an annual increase of over 5% (Amin,
private land. As at December 2004 there
                                              Ouma-Okita et al., this volume).
were 171 Eastern black rhinoceros in cap-
tivity worldwide (Foose & Wiese, this
                                              South-western black rhinoceros
volume).
                                                 Diceros bicornis bicornis
                                              The original range of this Vulnerable sub-
Threats to Eastern       black rhinoceros     species included Namibia, southern
Poaching is the main    threat to this sub-   Angola, western Botswana and probably
species. The majority   of poached rhino-     also south-western South Africa. Signifi-
ceros horn ends up in   Yemen to be made      cant populations have remained in the
REVIEW: RHINOCEROS CONSERVATION STATUS AND IN SITU THREATS                                  107

desert and arid savannah areas of                  stakeholders from community conservan-
Namibia and this country is the strong-            cies, state parks and the private sector (on
hold for the taxon, conserving 1238 rhino-         a custodianship basis for the state). South-
ceros as at the end of 2003 (Emslie,               western black rhinoceros have also been
2004a), with South Africa conserving a             reintroduced to South Africa and num-
further 71. There are no South-western             bered 71 by the end of 2003 (Emslie,
black rhinoceros in captivity.                     2004a). At the recent CITES COP,
                                                   Namibia was granted an annual quota for
Threats     to    South-western     black          the sport hunting of up to five surplus
rhinoceros The main threat to this sub-            South-western black rhinoceros 77. Not
species is poaching. Illegal hunting has           only will this deal with the problem of sur-
been blamed for the disappearance of the           plus 77 in some populations but also it
South-western black rhinoceros from arid           should generate significant revenue to
habitats in at least two range states              fund and stimulate conservation efforts.
(Angola and Botswana). Since 1979 con-             Namibia has indicated that if any surplus
servation efforts in Namibia have                  77 are hunted in communal areas, local
stemmed poaching activities and the                communities will have access to all the net
population has increased steadily. As in           revenue raised via Namibia’s Game Prod-
other range states, declining budgets for          ucts Trust Fund. In this way Namibia is
conservation are a problem.                        looking to deliver tangible benefits to the
                                                   communities that have successfully been
Conservation     measures The      South-          conserving the desert rhinoceros in the
western black rhinoceros is included on            north-east of the country.
CITES Appendix I. In Namibia poaching
during the war of independence caused              South-central black rhinoceros
public outcry and increasing support for              Diceros bicornis minor
local protection efforts by international          This Critically Endangered subspecies is
and local conservation agencies and com-           the most numerous of the Black rhino-
munities living in areas with rhinoceros,          ceros subspecies. Historically, this subspe-
have stemmed poaching activities in the            cies occurred from western and southern
country and the population has shown a             Tanzania through Zambia, Zimbabwe
steady increase since 1980 when there              and Mozambique to the northern and
were only c. 300 animals (Emslie &                 eastern parts of South Africa. It probably
Brooks, 1999). Effective field protection          also occurred in southern DRC and
of South-western black rhinoceros popu-            northern Angola. Today its stronghold is
lations has been critical to the rapid             South Africa and to a lesser extent Zim-
increase in numbers. Monitoring has also           babwe, with smaller numbers remaining in
provided information to guide biological           southern Tanzania. The South-central
management decision making aimed at                black rhinoceros is now thought to be
managing rhinoceros populations for                extinct in Angola and Mozambique but
rapid population growth. This has                  small numbers have been reintroduced
resulted in surplus animals being trans-           into Swaziland, Malawi and, more
located to establish new populations.              recently, Zambia and Botswana. The
Increasing efforts are also being made to          Italian funded Southern African Develop-
integrate local communities into conser-           ment Community (SADC) Regional Pro-
vation efforts. Namibia pioneered the use          gramme for Rhino Conservation has
of community-based game guards to pro-             played an important catalytic role in pro-
tect rhinoceros living in communal areas.          moting translocation of rhinoceros
Namibia’s South-western black rhino-               between countries and as at May 2004
ceros are now managed by a range of                there were 69 South-central black rhino-
108                                                              ELEPHANTS AND RHINOCEROS

ceros in captivity (Foose & Wiese, this       made to investigate and prosecute
volume).                                      poachers effectively to act as a deterrent.
                                                 Although threats to some managed
Threats      to     South-central     black   populations on state and private land in
rhinoceros Poaching is still the main         Zimbabwe cause concern, some of the
threat to the subspecies. Conservative bio-   South-central black rhinoceros popu-
logical management appears to have            lations in that country have been among
limited metapopulation growth rates in        the best performing in Africa. Like
some key populations (Emslie, 2001). In       Namibia, at the recent CITES COP,
parts of Zimbabwe, land transformation        South Africa was granted annual quotas
following re-settlement has negatively        for the sport hunting of five surplus
affected habitat in some areas and has        South-central black rhinoceros 77. Sport
resulted in a number of snare-related         hunting should generate significant rev-
deaths. There is a plan to create an addi-    enue to help fund and stimulate conser-
tional intensive-protection zone in Zim-      vation efforts. Similar to the limited
babwe. Declining conservation budgets,        Southern white rhinoceros hunting, the
an apparent increase in poaching and          hunting quota for South-central black
losses of animals to snaring, and the pros-   rhinoceros represents Q0·5% of the popu-
ecution of rhinoceros offences under          lation and, therefore, will be sustainable.
statues without deterrent sentences are of    Indeed it has been argued that the
concern.                                      removal of old surplus 77 may counter-
                                              intuitively help increase overall metapo-
Conservation measures The subspecies is       pulation performance (Emslie, 2004b).
included on CITES Appendix I. Effective
field protection of rhinoceros populations    ASIAN SPECIES
has been critical. Increasing efforts are     There are three species of Asian rhino-
being made to integrate local communities     ceros and all three are threatened with
into conservation efforts. A range of stak-   extinction: two are Critically Endangered
eholders, from state-run conservation         and one Endangered as listed by IUCN
agencies to privately owned sanctuaries,      (2004) (Table 2).
manage this subspecies. Increasing num-
bers have enabled translocations of sur-      Asian greater one-horned or Indian
plus animals to establish new populations     rhinoceros
within the former range of the subspecies.       Rhinoceros unicornis
However, overly conservative removals         The Endangered Indian rhinoceros was
from some South African populations in        once abundant throughout the floodplains
the past resulted in density increases and    of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Sindh
declining      population     performance.    Rivers and their large tributaries between
Removal levels appear to be on the            Indo–Burmese border in the east and Pak-
increase. Ongoing monitoring of indivi-       istan in the west. Currently, rhinoceros
dual rhinoceros occurs in the majority of     are restricted to protected areas mainly in
populations and annual status reporting       India and Nepal. In India, the majority
and improved estimates of ecological          are in Assam (Kaziranga NP, Pobitora
carrying     capacities   provide    useful   WS and Orang NP) but also in West
information to assess performance and         Bengal (Jaldapara WS and Gorumara
assist biological decision making. Indivi-    WS) and a few in Uttar Pradesh (Dudwa
dual rhinoceros populations form part of      NP). In Nepal rhinoceros occur mainly in
a bigger metapopulation and there have        Royal Chitwan NP but have also been
also been occasional transfers for genetic-   reintroduced to Royal Bardia NP and
conservation reasons. Efforts are also        Royal Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve
indian rhinoceros             javan rhinoceros                                         sumatran rhinoceros
                  Rhinoceros unicornis          Rhinoceros sondaicus                                     Dicerorhinus sumatrensis

                 total         trend           sondaicus     annamiticus   total         trend          sumatrensis    harrissoni    total         trend

India            2100          up
Indonesia                                      40–50                       40–50         stable         200                          200           stable or up
Malaysia                                                                                                 75            25            100           stable
Nepal             400          down
Vietnam                                                      Q5            Q5            down

total            2500          down                                        40–50         down                                        300           stable or up

Table 2. Approximate numbers of Indian, Javan and Sumatran rhinoceros in Asia as at 2005, presented by country and subspecies. A third subspecies of Javan
rhinoceros Rhinoceros sondaicus inermis, formerly in India and Bangladesh, is extinct. A third subspecies of Sumatran rhinoceros Dicerorhinus sumatrensis lasiotis,
may survive in very small numbers in northern Myanmar and on the India–Myanmar border.
                                                                                                                                                                      REVIEW: RHINOCEROS CONSERVATION STATUS AND IN SITU THREATS
                                                                                                                                                                      109
110                                                                                    ELEPHANTS AND RHINOCEROS

Fig. 3. Historic and current distribution of Indian rhinoceros Rhinoceros unicornis.

(Fig. 3). Reintroduced Indian rhinoceros                     The largest population of Indian rhino-
populations in Duduwa NP in Uttarpra-                      ceros is conserved in Assam’s Kaziranga
desh, India and Royal Suklaphanta WR,                      NP (also a World Heritage Site), which
Nepal, are small with only Bardia NP so                    celebrated its centenary in February 2005.
far receiving a founder number greater                     The recovery of numbers in this Park
than the minimum 20 recommended.                           under protection in many ways mirrors
  Indian rhinoceros numbers have                           the recovery of Southern white rhinoceros
recovered from Q200 earlier in the                         numbers. By 1905 numbers may have
20th century and the total wild population                 been as low as ten individuals but the last
has increased from 600–700 individuals in                  census estimated a population of 1850 by
1975 to c. 2500 in 2006. Periodic out-                     2006. However, in contrast to the
breaks of insurgency in parts of its range                 Southern white rhinoceros recovery, in the
has often resulted in certain populations                  past little attention was paid to biological
being eradicated or reduced significantly.                 management or expanding the number of
The two major range states, India and                      populations and range. As a result there
Nepal, have invested significant commit-                   have been few translocations and Kazir-
ment, effort, manpower and resources in                    anga NP holds at least two-thirds of the
protecting and conserving this species                     remaining Indian rhinoceros numbers in
and, as a result, there have been notable                  the wild. Apart from the strategic dangers
successes.                                                 of having so many ‘eggs in one basket’,
REVIEW: RHINOCEROS CONSERVATION STATUS AND IN SITU THREATS                                  111

there are clear signs of a density-                may have eluded the poachers or emi-
dependent reduction in population                  grated from refuge in Bhutan have reap-
performance and possible habitat degra-            peared. The population in Orang NP had
dation following the increase in numbers           been reduced by poachers from c. 100 to
(R. Emslie, pers. obs). In an encouraging          c. 50 by 1999, with poaching still occur-
development the Assam government has               ring (three more were lost in 2005). Never-
recently approved and launched a range             theless, overall protection has improved
expansion project called Rhino Vision              and the most recent census in 2006 located
2020, which will use translocations from           81 rhinoceros including 13 calves. There
Kaziranga NP to re-establish Indian                has also been recent poaching in Pobitora
rhinoceros in other parks with the aim of          WS. In Nepal, the rise in Maoist insur-
conserving 3000 rhinoceros in Assam by             gency has also led to a significant increase
2020 (Williams et al., 2005).                      in poaching, with numbers declining in
   Royal Chitwan NP holds the second               Royal Chitwan NP by about a third in the
largest population of the species. Its popu-       last 5 years: 544 in 2000 to c. 350 today.
lation recovered through intensive protec-         In Royal Bardia NP, at least 40 of 100
tion from 60–80 individuals to c. 540 by           Indian rhinoceros have been lost
2000 (DNPWC, unpubl.). However,                    (K. Chapagain,        Kathmandu        Post,
poaching has escalated dramatically in             2 August 2005; C. Williams, pers. comm.).
recent years following the removal of                 Increasing conflicts between Indian
many of the army anti-poaching units               rhinoceros and people inhabiting the
from the Park because of the Maoist                vicinities of the parks and reserves has
insurgency in the country. A recent census         also created negative attitude towards the
(2005) identified only 372 individuals, rep-       conservation of this species among some
resenting a 31% decrease since 2000. Since         local communities. The economy of the
that 2005 census 15 or more rhinoceros             marginalized communities in the buffer-
have been poached. As at 2004 there were           zone areas is particularly affected by crop
154 animals in captivity worldwide (Foose          damage caused by the species.
& Wiese, this volume).                                In addition, domestic grazing pressure
                                                   and illegal burning of grassland has
Threats to Indian rhinoceros Human                 resulted in further habitat degradation.
population growth has resulted in signifi-         Encroachment of invasive alien plant
cant habitat loss. Figure 3 shows that the         species, such as Micania micarantha and
reduction in the range of the Indian rhino-        Lantana camara, over natural riparian
ceros has been caused mainly by the dis-           vegetation has further increased the risk
appearance of alluvial plain grasslands.           of survival of the Endangered megaher-
Despite this there are still several potential     bivores that primarily inhabit the riverine
areas and parks for reintroduction. How-           environment          (G. J. Thapa         &
ever, proposed hydroelectric schemes in            S. R. Jnawali, pers. comm.).
the Bramhaputra River pose a major
threat to the habitat of this species.             Conservation     measures The       Indian
   The existing populations in India and           rhinoceros has been included on CITES
Nepal remain vulnerable to poaching.               Appendix I since 1975 and has been
Records of poaching in India show that             intensely protected by the Indian and
266 rhinoceros were poached between                Nepalese wildlife authorities. However,
1989 and 1993. Manas NP had an esti-               poaching has remained high and conser-
mated population of 90–100 rhinoceros in           vation efforts will require continued sup-
1990 but during a period of insurgency             port. New anti-poaching strategies are
virtually the entire population was lost,          being implemented by the Nepal parks
although a few Indian rhinoceros that              following significant losses. The recently
112                                                                                   ELEPHANTS AND RHINOCEROS

Fig. 4. Historic and current distribution of Javan rhinoceros Rhinoceros sondaicus.

launched rhinoceros range-expansion pro-                     More extensive education and commu-
ject (Rhino Vision 2020) in Assam is a                    nity programmes are being planned by the
major positive development that will con-                 authorities in Nepal and India to improve
tribute to both increased metapopulation                  awareness so that the communities living
growth rates as well as having strategic                  around the reserves are sympathetic to
benefits (Williams et al., 2005).                         and benefit from the Indian rhinoceros.
REVIEW: RHINOCEROS CONSERVATION STATUS AND IN SITU THREATS                                 113

Asian lesser one-horned or Javan                   Threats     to    Javan     rhinoceros The
rhinoceros                                         increasing human population means that
   Rhinoceros sondaicus                            the demand for land is high in the two
This Critically Endangered species once            protected areas that Javan rhinoceros are
ranged over a vast portion of south-east           known to exist. Clearance of forests for
Asia, occurring in three distinct subspecies       agriculture and commercial logging are
inhabiting coastal plains and river valleys.       occurring in and around these protected
The dominant form Rhinoceros sondaicus             areas and poaching is an ever-present
sondaicus survives only in Ujung Kulon             threat.
NP. Rhinoceros sondaicus inermis, once                The lack of growth in the main popu-
found in Bengal, Assam and Myanmar, is             lation is of concern as numbers of this
now extinct and a third subspecies, Rhino-         species are low and in order to minimize
ceros sondaicus annamiticus, was feared            loss of genetic diversity it is necessary to
extinct until the 1980s, when a population         increase the population as soon as
of Q10–15 animals was discovered in an             possible. The low number of individuals
unprotected forest in Vietnam (Fig. 4).            in a single viable population makes the
The area has subsequently been included            species extremely vulnerable to extinction
in the Cat Tien NP but the number of               because of uneven sex ratios, unbalanced
Javan rhinoceros in that area is now prob-         age structure, reduced rates of reproduc-
ably less than five and no successful              tion, natural catastrophes, disease,
breeding has been observed since 1998.             poaching, political disturbances and
   At time of writing 40–50 animals                genetic drift. If no reproduction occurs in
remain in Ujung Kulon NP on the west-              the Cat Loc population it is doomed. The
ernmost tip of Java. This only surviving           lack of appropriate wildlife-conservation
viable population has been stagnant for            laws and effective field law enforcement in
                                                   Vietnam are major threats to the survival
the last 30 years. Either limited poaching
                                                   of the Cat Loc population (P. Hartley
continues to cancel out births, although
                                                   pers. comm.; G. Polet, pers. comm.).
no poaching has been recorded since 1991
and the rhinoceros are protected and
                                                   Conservation measures Protecting the
monitored by three Rhino Protection
                                                   Javan rhinoceros has been the primary
Units, or (more probably) the population           conservation focus. There are currently
has reached carrying capacity and popu-            three trained and well-equipped Rhino
lation performance has been negatively             Protection Units (RPUs) maintaining
affected as a result. To date there has not        patrols in Ujung Kulon NP. The RPUs
been an attempt to establish a second              have been highly successful with no
population elsewhere. This is unfortunate          known improbable losses of Javan rhino-
on biological-management (demographic              ceros in the last 5 years.
and genetic) and strategic grounds. How-              Faecal-DNA analysis and camera traps
ever, the recently formulated and adopted          are being used to assess the population
(by the government) Indonesian Rhino               structure in Ujung Kulon NP as the popu-
Conservation Strategy, known as the                lation in the region is poorly known.
Rhino Century Project (Proyek Abad                 Studies are being carried out on habitat
Badak), is proposing a vigorous initiative         and food availability, and to determine if
to establish a second population. The only         Banteng Bos javanicus are limiting popu-
other Javan population, currently esti-            lation growth of the Javan rhinoceros by
mated to be less than five individuals, is         competing for food. The feasibility of
at the Cat Loc part of the Cat Tien NP             translocating rhinoceros to establish a
in Vietnam. There are no Javan rhino-              new viable population in another suitable
ceros in captivity.                                habitat is also being considered in order
114                                                              ELEPHANTS AND RHINOCEROS

to initiate the recovery of numbers. The     Kalimantan. In Sarawak the species is no
population in Cat Loc Reserve is heading     longer found. There are ten Sumatran
for extinction partly as a result of human   rhinoceros in captivity: four in North
pressure, a lack of appropriate laws and     American zoos, four at the Sumatran
penalties,     and      inadequate     law   Rhino Sanctuary in Sumatra and two at
enforcement.                                 Sepilok in Borneo. The attempt to
                                             develop a captive-propagation pro-
Asian two-horned or Sumatran                 gramme as part of the conservation
rhinoceros                                   strategy under the auspices of the AsRSG
   Dicerorhinus sumatrensis                  has been very challenging. From the
The Critically Endangered Sumatran           inception of the programme in 1984 until
rhinoceros once ranged from the foothills    2001, mortality was high and no repro-
of the Himalayas in Bhutan and eastern       duction occurred among the 40 ‘doomed’
India, through Myanmar, Thailand and         rhinoceros rescued from unviable situa-
the Malay Peninsula, and on the islands      tions in the wild. However, two births
of Sumatra and Borneo. At the beginning      have occurred (in 2001 and 2004) at the
of the 20th century, the Bornean form of     Cincinnati Zoo & Botanic Garden and
the Asian two-horned rhinoceros Dicer-       there is renewed hope that the captive-
orhinus sumatrensis harrissoni, also known   propagation programme for this species
as the Eastern Sumatran rhinoceros, was      can now succeed, especially with the guid-
fairly    widespread      and      common    ance of the Global Management and
throughout Borneo, in both the Malay-        Propagation Board (GMPB) that has
sian (Sabah and Sarawak) and Indonesian      been formed for Sumatran rhinoceros.
(Kalimantan) parts of the island.
   The population was c. 600 in 1994 but     Threats to Asian two-horned or Sumatran
has declined to c. 300 worldwide in 2006.    rhinoceros The Sumatran rhinoceros
About 200 occur in Sumatra but are con-      survives in several small isolated popu-
fined to only three national parks, except   lations so some metapopulation manage-
for a few solitary animals in remote loca-   ment for genetic-conservation reasons
tions. Bukit Barisan Selatan NP and          may be necessary in the longer term. With
Gunung Leuser NP are the highest-pri-        few animals surviving in each population
ority areas each with c. 60–85 Sumatran      there is a much greater chance of the
rhinoceros. About 20–25 Sumatran rhino-      reproductive process being disrupted by
ceros occur in Way Kambas NP.                an uneven sex ratio, unbalanced age struc-
   Outside Sumatra small populations         ture or declining reproduction. Evidence
occur in a few areas in Malaysia. In Pen-    suggests that this has already occurred in
insula Malaysia, the only populations        many areas, most recently in the Kerinci-
with more than a few Asian two-horned        Seblat NP in central Sumatra (van Strien,
or Sumatran rhinoceros are in Taman          pers. obs.).
Negara NP and the Belum Forest Com-             Poaching is the major threat for this
plex. Danum Valley (with an estimated        species. The financial commitment given
minimum of 13 rhinoceros) and Tabin          to Asian two-horned or Sumatran rhino-
WR in Sabah, Malaysia on the island of       ceros conservation by the two main range
Borneo, contain the only known popu-         states is also less than that provided by the
lations of the subspecies Dicerorhinus       Greater one-horned rhinoceros range
sumatrensis harrissoni. The status of the    states or the major range states in Africa.
species in other parts of the region is      The threat is still severe in most areas
unknown (Fig. 5), although a few are         because of the continuing demand for
likely to survive in remote parts of Thai-   Asian rhinoceros horns for the TCM
land and Myanmar, and possibly also in       market. Strict protection of the rhinoceros
REVIEW: RHINOCEROS CONSERVATION STATUS AND IN SITU THREATS                                      115

Fig. 5. Historic and current distribution of Sumatran rhinoceros Dicerorhinus sumatrensis.

in their habitat is, therefore, currently the             cant difference, in Indonesia and
only conservation option. In the past,                    Malaysia. In addition, more vigorous
anti-poaching patrolling inside the                       prosecution of wildlife crimes means that
national parks was inadequate. However,                   poaching has ceased almost completely in
in recent years the introduction of field                 several key areas, such as Bukit Barisan
anti-poaching teams known as Rhino Pro-                   Selatan NP, Way Kambas NP and
tection Units (RPUs) has made a signifi-                  Gunung Leuser NP.
116                                                                    ELEPHANTS AND RHINOCEROS

   Habitat encroachment is a more serious       the effective RPUs and more vigorous
problem in most areas. The land sur-            prosecution, poaching of the Asian two-
rounding rhinoceros habitat is generally        horned or Sumatran rhinoceros has
densely populated and large parts are           ceased almost completely in a number of
under severe pressure for land and              areas including Bukit Barisan Selatan NP,
resources. Significant areas within the         Way Kambas NP and Gunung Leuser NP
national parks, and often all of the pro-       (Foose & van Strien, 1998, 2005). A
tected forests in the buffer zones, have        number of external agencies have contrib-
been converted for agriculture. Occasion-       uted financially and technically to the
ally important habitat is de-gazetted for       development of the RPU programme.
logging and illegal logging is also             Major new initiatives to invigorate efforts
increasing, particularly in Sumatra. Over       to protect the Sumatran rhinoceros have
the last 15 years c. 30% of Bukit Barisan       been inaugurated in Indonesia (Project
Selatan NP has been converted and Way           Rhino Century) and Malaysia (Rhino
Kambas NP has lost 15% of its area. For-        Rescue).
tunately, in Way Kambas NP, little of the         There are also ongoing efforts to
actual rhinoceros habitat has been lost but     develop captive-breeding centres in Indo-
if the trend continues, the entire Park is in   nesia and Malaysia (N. van Strien &
jeopardy. Natural disasters may also            T. Foose, pers. obs). While so far these
impact the survival of this species, either     have not been successful as more deaths
directly, such as the El Niño induced fires    are recorded than births, there is renewed
of 1997, or indirectly, such as the tsunami     optimism based on the success that has
in December 2004, which may have long-          recently been achieved in reproducing this
term repercussions on economic and polit-       species as well as the advent in captivity
ical development thus intensifying the          of younger and presumably more fertile
pressure on the conservation areas.             animals (van Strien, 2005).

Conservation measures The Asian two-
horned or Sumatran rhinoceros has been          REFERENCES
                                                Birkett, A. (2002): The impact of giraffe, rhino and
included on CITES Appendix I since              elephant on the habitat of a black rhino sanctuary
1975. Anti-poaching, habitat protection,        in Kenya. African Journal of Ecology 40: 276.
and captive-breeding, research and moni-        Brett, R. A. & Adcock, K. (2002): Assessment of
toring programmes have been initiated by        the options for the expansion of the black rhino
                                                population at Ngulia rhino sanctuary, Tsavo West
local and international organizations, in       NP, Kenya. In African Wildlife Foundation report:
co-operation with governmental authori-         71. Nairobi: African Wildlife Foundation.
ties and local communities. Perhaps the         But, P. H., Lung, L. C. & Tam, Y. K. (1990): Eth-
longest-running and most effective pro-         nopharmacology of rhinoceros horn. I. Antipyretic
gramme is the RPUs, which have been             effects of rhinoceros horn and other animal horns.
                                                Journal of Ethnopharmacology 30: 157–168.
operating since 1995. The RPUs operate          DNPWC (Unpublished): Count rhino 2000: initial
in all key areas, concentrating on anti-        report. Unpublished report, Department of National
poaching and law enforcement, and have          Parks and Wildlife Conservation, Kathmandu, 2000.
been highly successful.                         Emslie, R. (Ed.) (2001): Workshop on biological
                                                management to meet continental and national black
   In Bukit Barisan Selatan NP a mobile         rhino conservation goals. In Proceedings and work-
Intelligence and Law Enforcement Unit           shop report: 130. Harare: Southern African Develop-
has been established to assist the RPUs         ment Community, Regional Programme for Rhino
and the National Park to detect and             Conservation.
apprehend poachers. With the assistance         Emslie, R. (2004a): Rhino population sizes and
                                                trends. Pachyderm 37: 107–110.
of the Intelligence and Law Enforcement         Emslie, R. (2004b): Black rhino hunting quotas
Unit many cases of wildlife poaching have       approved for Namibia and South Africa at CITES
been prosecuted successfully. Because of        Conference of the Parties 13. Pachyderm 37: 92–97.
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