There are two African rhino species – white rhino and black rhino, and three Asian rhino species the greater one horned rhino the Sumatran rhino and the Javan rhino.

Now, at the moment the Asian rhinos all live in separate places however this was not always the case.

The Javan rhino, historically, has a range of a vast swathe of Asia from north-eastern India through Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Java. At the current time, the Javan rhino only survives in Java (and with only about 72 remain) however that is an increase in the last few years. Nevertheless, this has a long way to recover. If it does the Javan rhino could return to mainland Asia, where the last one was illegally killed back in 2010.

The Sumatran rhino also has a far greater historical range having once roamed as far away as the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas in Bhutan and eastern India, through Myanmar, Thailand, possibly to Vietnam and China, and south through the Malay Peninsula. Currently the Sumatran rhino is critically endangered with only 80 or so remaining in Sumatra.

In Africa there has been horrible decline of rhinos. The northern white rhino was as recent as 1960 still living in numbers over 2000. Found through  Chad, the Central African Republic, South-western Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and North-western Uganda. Unfortunately this population has since crashed, and while they are not yet extinct there are so few left it is unlikely to recover. Embryos have been frozen in the hope that in the near future Southern white rhinos could host these.

Unfortunately, while the southern white rhino is doing far better with 18,000 (only a12% decline in the last decade) it is not healthy and at the rate that poaching has occurred it’s not inconceivable that this population could be largely poached out of existence in a decade. In 2021, 457 rhinos were poached in South Africa with 77 lost from the Kruger. While this is horrific, it would suggest that Kruger is finally managing to protect its rhinos more effectively. Currently only 30% of Southern white rhino live in Kruger, which in the past this percentage was far higher. Hopefully in the future rhino poaching will go back to being a thing of the past.

Black rhino in Africa are found in the East and South of Africa. Being browsers (eating bushes and trees) they can feed from deep under cover, as a result it is often far harder to see them. Kruger is thought to have around 300 – when we were there 15 years ago the estimate was slightly lower, but not dramatically.

Western black rhino has been thought to be extinct since around 2010. Before then it was found in Cameroon.

Best reserves to see rhino

Kruger- 2600 white rhino (down from over 15,000 in 2007), 268 black rhino                                              Serengeti- a couple of hundred of each (hosting southern rhino, to replace the functionally extinct northern white rhino)

In summary, while all 5 species of rhino have not yet disappeared completely, they are not doing particularly well. Nevertheless the make a perfect species to keep an eye on with our species watch.

Limpopo Transfrontier park including Kruger sabi sands and other conservation areas
Greater Serengeti
See Animals Wild