WWF Statement on Rhinos Poached in South Africa During 2021

In response to a recent announcement from South Africa’s Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment that 451 rhinos were illegally killed for their horn in South Africa during 2021, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) released the following statements from Dr. Jo Shaw, Senior Manager: Wildlife Portfolio, WWF South-Africa and Bas Huijbregts, African Species Director, WWF-US:

Dr Jo Shaw, Senior Manager: Wildlife Portfolio, WWF-South Africa:

“The latest rhino poaching numbers from South Africa confirm the ongoing nature of the threat to the world’s rhino populations, regardless of the brief respite in poaching pressure in 2020 due to lock-down restrictions. In fact, global travel and tourism restrictions in response to the pandemic continue to have a devastating impact on income for conservation areas and the livelihoods of local people living near those areas. To dismantle the known trafficking networks threatening people and wildlife we need international commitment to cross-border collaboration across law enforcement agencies from rhino range states, transit countries and consumer countries.”

Bas Huijbregts, African Species Manager, WWF-US:

“The number of rhinos poached in South Africa is illustrative of the poaching problem across the species’ range in Africa. Poaching for the illegal international trade in their horns is the main threat to their survival. We’ve seen successful intelligence operations in Namibia where law enforcement agencies collaborate closely to disrupt criminal networks and catch poachers before they are able to kill. Those activities need to be scaled across the range and across borders.

“What’s important to realize is eco-tourism funds many rhino protection activities in conservation areas and the presence of tourists is often a deterrent to poachers. Finding alternative sources of long-term funding to make the survival of rhinos less dependent on eco-tourism is critical as the Covid-19 pandemic continues into its third year and travel restrictions remain in many parts of the world. The lack of revenue from eco-tourism also reduces incomes for many local people living near conservation areas so finding more sustainable funding for conservation would create more stability for both people and rhinos.”