An astonishing 333 rhinos were killed illegally in South Africa in 2010–the highest rate ever experienced in the country. Ten of these were critically endangered black rhinos, of which only about 3,500 individuals still remain.
The recent rhino crime wave is largely due to a rising demand for rhino horn, which has long been prized as an ingredient in traditional Asian medicine. Its popularity increased in Vietnam after claims that rhino horn possesses cancer-curing properties, despite any medical evidence.
Today’s wildlife poachers are well coordinated and employ advanced technologies. Their sophisticated criminal networks use helicopters, night-vision equipment, veterinary tranquilizers and silencers to kill rhinos at night–attempting to avoid military and law enforcement patrols.
WWF and TRAFFIC (their global wildlife trade program), are working to combat the crisis on a global scale. Local efforts include anti-poaching operations, introducing transmitters in rhino horns, facilitating regional dialogues on security and raising awareness among the public.
WWF’s Black Rhino Range Expansion Project in South Africa aims to increase the overall numbers of black rhino by making breeding lands available–with the goal of reaching a national target of 5,000 black rhinos. Global efforts focus on reducing demand in consumer nations and stopping wildlife trafficking through such initiatives as aiding enforcement officials to detect rhino horn in transit.
The rate of threatened wildlife poaching cannot continue unabated. Your urgent help is needed to protect these and other animals and their habitats.
Donate today to support WWF’s global conservation work.

Inga Yandell
Explorer and media producer, passionate about nature, culture and travel. Combining science and conservation with investigative journalism to provide resources and opportunities for creative exploration.