We focus on the conservation of four of the five rhino species, working to contribute to their population recovery and growth by achieving an annual growth rate of at least 5% for key populations:
To protect black rhinos from poaching and habitat loss, WWF is taking action in three key African rhino range countries: Namibia, South Africa, and Kenya. Together, these nations hold about 87% of the total black rhino population.
WWF is working with government agencies and partners in these countries to support law enforcement agencies, build support for rhinos in surrounding communities, develop and build on innovative tech solutions, and equip and train rangers to stop poachers. We also support translocation efforts to establish new black rhino populations in these countries to ensure the species is healthy and growing.
Only around 70 Javan rhinos are currently estimated to remain in the world, making this critically endangered rhino species one of the most threatened large mammal species on Earth. They’re confined to one park on the extreme southwestern tip of the Indonesian island of Java—Ujung Kulon National Park. WWF is supporting Rhino Protection Units in Ujung Kulon National Park, Java, to safeguard the last remaining population of Javan rhinos from poaching and habitat loss. WWF is working to remove the invasive arenga palm tree, which has squeezed out the rhino’s native food plants in 6,178 acres of former habitat within the park. Extraction of the palm within the park will be followed by active restoration of natural vegetation and food plants for rhinos. WWF also conducts research, including camera trap monitoring, which continues to reveal critical information about behavioral patterns, distribution, movement, population size, sex ratio, and genetic diversity.
The Sumatran rhino is the most threatened of all rhino species, with around 40 surviving in fragmented sub-populations across Indonesia on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo. While there are fewer Javan rhino individuals, the remaining Javan rhino all live in one site and are a healthy breeding population. The Sumatran rhino, on the other hand, all live in very small and highly fragmented populations on the islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan in Indonesia. These remaining animals are isolated in fragmented pockets of forests that prevent them breeding. The smallest rhinos on Earth, Sumatran rhinos remain in small and isolated areas, limiting reproduction in the wild. As a result, these populations have been on the decline.
In support of the government of Indonesia’s efforts, WWF, Global Wildlife Conservation, International Rhino Foundation, International Union for Conservation of Nature, and the National Geographic Society have joined together with Indonesian partners on-the-ground to launch a Sumatran Rhino Rescue effort. Beginning in 2018, this alliance of organizations aims to relocate the widely dispersed rhino populations from the wild to managed breeding facilities designed specifically for their care. In addition to securing the remaining rhino population, the effort will develop the infrastructure to care for the rhinos and grow their numbers with the long-term objective of releasing these animals back into the wild.
Greater one-horned rhino
The recovery of the greater one-horned rhino is among the greatest conservation success stories in Asia. Today, this rhino population stands at around 3,700 individuals, a significant increase from around 200 remaining at the turn of the 20th century. Strict protection and management action from Indian and Nepalese authorities and their partners are responsible for bringing the species back from the brink. However, the species’ remarkable recovery is constrained by a lack of adequate habitat and the ongoing threat of poaching for their horns. Currently, 85% of all greater one-horned rhinos are concentrated in just two locations in India and Nepal.
To ensure continued recovery of the greater one-horned rhino, WWF is supporting the establishment of new populations by translocating rhinos to protected areas with suitable habitat within the species’ historic range. Translocating rhinos from the two main populations will allow both groups to expand into new territories and will also decrease densities in crowded parks, leading to increased breeding rates. We are setting up systematic monitoring programs to measure the health and status of resident and newly translocated rhinos, as well as supporting effective protection measures.