February 14, 2017

The Poaching Crisis

Welcome to KwaZulu-Natal – proud home of the southern white rhino


What motivates us daily is the dream of both White and Black rhino species thriving in KwaZulu-Natal and far beyond – forever free, forever secure from poaching, well managed and protected.

Today we strive to protect the world’s last remaining African rhino species,

So that tomorrow they will still continue to play their vital role in our continent’s irreplaceable and beautiful ecosystems, contributing to an ever-growing realization of our fundamental reliance on the natural environment and all its elements for our very basic needs.

We honour their uniqueness as one of the primary icons of Africa’s great wilderness areas.

Where and how it started

Fuelled by a growing demand for rhino horn in primarily China and Vietnam and driven by international criminal syndicates, rhinos around the world are under threat of extinction. During 2012, both the Western black rhino and Vietnamese population of Javan rhino were declared extinct, and there are less than six Northern white rhino left in Africa.

South Africa is now one of the last countries to have a significant population of rhinos left in the wild – one of the reasons why South Africa is bearing the brunt of what can be described as one of the worst global wildlife conservation crises of the past 100 years.

More than 5,000 rhinos have been killed within the country’s borders in the past five years. The ‘tipping point’ – in which more rhinos are being poached than are being born – is approaching for South Africa’s white rhino and black rhino populations. If the poaching continues to escalate at the current rate, we will see the demise of the rhino in major national parks with only small handfuls surviving in well protected areas. It could take decades for the populations to recover. This is why it is critical to keep up the support to organisations working to protect our rhino populations.

KwaZulu-Natal Poaching Statistics

In 2014, KZN lost 99 rhino to poaching out of a national total of 1215. In 2015, KZN’s rhino poaching deaths increased to 116 out of a national total of 1175. In 2016 the poaching deaths in KZN increased to 162 out of the national total of 1054 and in 2017 as of early June KZN has lost a total of 113 Rhino, up from 65 the same time last year.

Rhino Conservation in KwaZulu-Natal

KwaZulu-Natal is renowned for bringing the Southern White rhino back from the brink of extinction. Today, it is home to the second-largest population of white rhinos left in the world, and 25% of South Africa’s population of the critically endangered black rhino.

Thought to be extinct, around 40 southern white rhinos were unexpectedly discovered in northern KZN (Zululand) in 1894. The finding of these last survivors of a once-prolific species led to the proclamation of the now world-famous iMfolozi Game Reserve, which was once the tightly-controlled Royal Hunting Grounds of King Shaka Zulu. By the 1960s, white rhino numbers had increased to 600 and so began Operation Rhino and the return of southern white rhino into habitats across Africa – including the Kruger National Park – and to wildlife parks in Britain, USA and Europe. Today, KwaZulu-Natal is proudly known as the home of the southern white rhino.

It is thanks to KZN’s rhino conservation pioneers such as the late Dr Ian Player, Magqubu Ntombela and others that by 2010, southern white rhinos around the world numbered 22,000: the greatest rhino conservation success story ever. But now sadly, it is one that is dangerously close to being unravelled: the ‘tipping point’ – in which more rhinos are falling victim to poachers’ guns than are being born – is fast approaching.

This province has a proud history of saving the rhino: We did it once and we need to fight to do it again. It is an international wildlife crisis that needs us to all work together to save a species that has been with us for more than 50 million years.

Thank you for taking time to find out more about Project Rhino's work to safeguard the rhinos of KwaZulu-Natal – one of the most historic and beautiful conservation regions in the world – and appreciating for yourself, the challenges we are facing.



Project Rhino is an association of like-minded organisations facilitating rhino conservation interventions aimed at eliminating rhino poaching and securing the white and black rhino populations of KwaZulu-Natal.

The members of Project Rhino recognise that the work in conserving and protecting rhinos from the threat of poaching is symbolic of the broader threat faced by all wildlife, and that all wildlife will benefit from actions taken by Project Rhino.

The association is also aware that the poaching of rhino is symptomatic of the overall, bigger environmental crises facing South Africa and its neighbours.

World Rhino Day, 22 September 2011