African white rhino populations have shown an increase for the first time in over a decade despite continued poaching, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) said.
The organization credits protection and biological management initiatives across the continent for black rhino populations rising by 4.2% to a population of 6,487, and white rhino populations rising by 5.6% to a population of 16,803.
White rhinos, which now only exist in the southern part of the continent, are on IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species and are classified as “near threatened.”
“With this good news, we can take a sigh of relief for the first time in a decade,” said Michael Knight, chair of the IUCN African Rhino Specialist Group, in a press release. “However, it is imperative to further consolidate and build upon this positive development and not drop our guard.”
Poaching is still the greatest threat to all rhino species living in Africa, according to the 2023 State of the Rhino report.
Climate changes and habitat loss are also factors that pose a risk to the rhino population, the report noted.
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