Rhino Horn’s Real Value and Other Rhino Facts

Rhinos once roamed freely in many places throughout Eurasia and Africa. But few now survive outside reserves and national parks.

WWF is one of the few organizations attempting to tackle all threats to rhinos. We work on strengthening protected areas in Africa and Asia, lobbying to halt the illegal timber trade that threatens rhino habitat, and stamping out the illegal trade in rhino horn.

Take a look at five rhino facts to learn about the species and what WWF is doing to help:

1. Can rhino horn really cure cancer?
At least two rhinos are killed every day because of the mistaken belief that their horns cure fevers, blood disorders, cancers, and hangovers. In fact, rhino horns are made of the same material as human fingernails and hair. The place where a rhino horn is of most value? On a rhino. WWF works from the grassroots up to protect wildlife like rhinos that are increasingly vulnerable to wildlife crime.


2. How many species of rhinos are there?
There are five rhinoceros species: black, white, Sumatran, Javan and greater one-horned. Black rhinos are actually gray in color. The distinguishing factor between black and white rhinos in Africa are their lips; black rhinos have a pointed upper lip that helps them grasp leaves from branches above ground level (browsers), while white rhinos (also gray in color) have a square upper lip that helps them pluck grasses off the ground (grazers).


3. How often do rhinos give birth?
It takes five to seven years for female rhinos to reach sexual maturity, and when they do, they can give birth any time of year. However, females only give birth every two to four years. Calves tend to stay with their mothers until the next calf is born. Then they mostly live a solitary life.

4. How does WWF protect rhinos from habitat loss?
Deforestation and conversion of forests for plantations—particularly in Sumatran rhino habitat—threatens rhinos and their natural habitat. WWF works to save fast-disappearing forests and seeks to establish new rhino populations through translocations—moving rhinos from one place to another—to new refuges. This helps to reduce pressure on existing wildlife reserves and provides new territories for rhinos to flourish.


5. What’s the good news for rhinos?
If we succeed in giving them the protection they need, rhino populations will thrive. Thanks to successful conservation and anti-poaching efforts, black rhino numbers have doubled in the past two decades after hitting a low point of 2,480 individuals. On March 3, 2014, the government of Nepal marked 365 days without any rhino, elephant or tiger poached. That’s the second time the country has hit that milestone after 2011.