Conserving Endangered Rhinos in South Africa

Wildlife & Ecosystems

Conserving Endangered Rhinos in South Africa

Rhino populations are in crisis due to the high value of rhino horn combined with widespread poaching. But what happens if they disappear entirely?

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The facts

Why the research is important

Why the research is important

South Africa contains 74 percent of the world’s remaining rhino population.

It is estimated that rhinos will become extinct within the next 10 to 20 years if poaching continues at its current rate.

Over the last six years, 2,650 rhino have been killed in South Africa. Nearly half of these deaths were in 2014 alone – an average of three rhinos killed each day. One strategy used to protect rhinos from the threat of poaching has been to remove the rhino’s highly valuable horn. But it is unknown what impact de-horning has on rhinos’ behavior, their ability to defend themselves and young from predators, and their interactions with other species. Other land management strategies to reduce poaching, such as nightly patrols, have been employed – but little is known about how effective these strategies have been.

While the value of rhino horn has been well documented, little is understood about rhinos’ environmental value. How do these animals impact the ecosystems in which they function?

Researchers are studying the effects of de-horning rhinos on their behavior

Researchers are studying the effects of de-horning rhinos on their behavior.

This will be the first study in South Africa to look at the ecosystem services of rhinos and the impact of management on rhino behavior – information that will help to further protect these animals. The results will highlight how rhinos support biodiversity within their ecosystem and will be shared with rhino owners and park managers to help reduce the risk of poaching.

About the research area

Northwest Province, South Africa, Africa

Daily life in the field


This is a summary:

The Scientists


Principal Lecturer in Ecology, University of Brighton

ABOUT Dawn Scott

Dr. Dawn Scott specializes in mammalian predator and prey ecology. She has more than ten years of research experience and expertise in mammal ecology, biodiversity, and behavior.



Accommodations and Food

Accommodations and Food


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