Save the Rhino International Inc

Rhino Threats

This section gives an overview of the main threats to all rhino species.

Click here for more information about threats to rhinos from our sister organisation Save the Rhino International.



Rhinos are poached for their horns, and this is the most serious threat to all rhino species.

Rhino horn is used in traditional Chinese medicine for a variety of ailments including fever, anxiety and food poisoning. The demand for horn has escalated in recent years increasingly driven by users in Vietnam, where it appears to be used as a demonstration of wealth and high social status. It is estimated that weight-for-weight rhino horn is currently worth more than gold. This high value has resulted in rhino poachers developing highly sophisticated and well organised international crime syndicates with access to improved weaponry and equipment such as helicopters.

In the 1970s and 80s, horn from rhinos poached in East Africa was mainly destined for the Yemen, where it was made into ornamental handles for traditional daggers called jambiyas. This trade was fuelled by the oil boom and has reduced recently due to economic decline in the region.

Credit Renaud Fulconis

Habitat Loss


Habitat loss is a significant factor in the conservation of many species around the world. As human populations have grown, more land is required for settlements and farming, and this means less land is available for wildlife. In addition, forests around the world are being logged to supply the world's demand for timber, and this affects all species that live in those forests.

Rhino range has greatly reduced in the past few centuries, with many countries in both Africa and Asia losing their rhino species completely. Although much of this is due to poaching, habitat loss has also been a key factor in global rhino population decline from over 1 million rhinos to approximately 30,000 alive today.

Save the Rhino International Inc recognises the importance of maintaining rhino habitat and many of the field projects we support are working to ensure that this habitat is available for future generations of rhino.

Credit Steve and Ann Toon

Political Conflict


Political conflict is not a direct threat to rhinos, but it facilitates other threats, such as poaching.

Poaching is the main threat to the rhinos' survival and conservationists work to reduce this threat through anti-poaching patrols, fencing sanctuaries and incentivising local communities to pass on information about poachers.

In areas with political conflict, such as war zones or political instability, where law and order has broken down, it has become much easier for the poachers to kill rhinos and other endangered species. Particular examples of places where political conflict has been matched by a rise in poaching include the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe and Nepal.

Credit Steve and Ann Toon

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