Rhinos at a Glance

Rhinos are known as nature’s tanks, due to their thick skin and bulk, as well as their trundling, heavyset pace.

However, despite their fortitude, they are unlikely to survive much longer in a human-dominated world – at least not without our help.

Save the Rhino Trust
David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

The number of African rhinos killed by poachers in the last decade


It is estimated there is fewer than 47 Sumatran rhinos left in the wild


The number of rhino species (2 African, 3 Asian)

Rhino Species and Status

Save the Rhino Trust
David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

Rhinos are some of the most unique and incredible animals on the planet. They are classified as odd-toed ungulates, and true to this, all rhino species have three toes. And as ungulates, they are considered hooved mammals like horses. However, the ‘hooves’ of rhinos only cover the leading edge of the toes, with the bottom of the foot being soft.

There are five extant species of rhinoceros: the white and black rhinos of Africa, and the Sumatran, greater one-horned, and Javan rhinos of Asia.

Once they reach adulthood, all rhino species weigh in at over a tonne – making rhinos some of the largest remaining megafauna on the planet. No wonder there’s a military vehicle named after them! This has as much to do with their size as it does their armour-like skin (which can be up to 5cm thick), formed of latticed layers of collagen.

Rhinos are also herbivores and grazers, primarily eating leafy material. However, their hindgut enables them to ferment more fibrous food too, meaning they can survive on anything from thorn bushes to tree bark when they need to.

Rhinos are perhaps best known for their horns – but again, this varies from species to species. White and black rhinos both have two horns, with the front one being very prominent. Whereas Javan and the greater one-horned rhino (as you can tell by the latter’s name) have just a single horn. Sumatran rhinos have two horns that are far less pronounced – as fits this smallest member of the family.

“The scary thing is that in my lifetime, 95% of the world’s rhinos have been killed.”

Mark Cawardine

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

How to Protect Wild Rhino Populations

All five species of rhino are in desperate need of protection if we are to save them from extinction.

Even the white rhino, considered as ‘near threatened’, with an estimated 16,000 left in the wild, is in even more trouble than it may seem, as these numbers do not tell the whole story. For one sub-species – the northern white rhino, extinction seems certain – with only two females, closely guarded in a sanctuary, remaining.

The future of the Javan and Sumatran rhino is also uncertain, with fewer than 80 and 50 left in the wild respectively. The greater one-horned rhino is the most widespread of the Asian species, but even then, is down to just 4,000 animals. They all join the black rhino, whose numbers are estimated as just over 6,000 in the wild, as being considered critically endangered.

Rhinos face threats to their survival on two main fronts; poaching and habitat loss. Hunted for both their meat and horn, the few remaining Javan and Sumatran rhinos are now restricted to protected areas inside national parks. For the latter, they are losing ground (literally) to the palm oil and paper industries and their small, fragmented populations are struggling to remain viable. For Javan rhinos, small increases in their numbers provide some hope, but they are still extremely vulnerable to natural disasters and disease.

Rhinos are poached and targeted by criminal gangs operating within the illegal wildlife trade. Their horns are a much-prized ingredient in the debunked traditional medicines of China and Vietnam especially. Rhino horn is made of keratin – the same material that makes up hair and fingernails. It has been proven to have no medicinal value in countless studies.

This demand has reduced populations that once numbered as high as 500,000 animals across Africa and Asia a century ago, to fewer than 27,000. The biggest drops have occurred over the last decade, with up to 70% of certain rhino species disappearing. It is clear they cannot survive such a continued onslaught.

We need to protect rhinos by vigorously enforcing an outright ban on the trade of rhino horn and equipping and supporting enough ranger teams to appropriately care for wild populations. We also need to provide rhinos with enough protected habitat for their numbers to recover, by connecting existing strongholds through wildlife corridors, and generating more safe zones across their range.

A Unique Population

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) is proud to fund and support the protection of a unique population of black rhinos in Namibia, who have adapted to desert life. Not only have we backed anti-poaching and protection teams here, but also research and monitoring programmes that inform government and conservation protection strategies.

You can adopt one of our Namibian black rhinos and directly contribute to their ongoing protection below.

Save the Rhino Trust
David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation


rhinos lost to the poaching epidemic in Africa alone, in the last decade.

Rhino Art

Our founder, David Shepherd, was known as ‘the man who loved giants’. He depicted both black rhinos of Africa and greater one-horned rhinos of Asia in several of his best-known works. Rhinos and their plight continue to fascinate and inspire wildlife artists from around the world. From stunning originals to exclusive prints and postcards, you can help support the vital work we do on behalf of rhinos by buying artwork through the DSWF shop.

Don’t forget to also check our ‘Artist of the Month’ and ‘Art for Animals’ pages, for specific pieces centred around our core species, including rhinos.

How Donating Can Help

DSWF is committed to instigating real-world change through a holistic approach to conservation. We have forged long-term partnerships with frontline conservation partners, meaning we can affect positive change for generations to come.

But we absolutely cannot do it without you. Your generous donations are what keep our projects going. This challenging yet vital work can only continue with your help. Nothing inspires our conservation partners on the ground more than knowing they are being supported and cheered on by people like you, who care about what happens to our wildlife. Whether you give a lot or just what you can, and whether you give once or regularly – it all makes a difference.

Your donations equip ranger teams in Namibia, better preparing them for the gruelling three-week patrols they endure to protect black rhinos. Your generosity enables schools across Africa and Asia to participate in educational programmes like eco-camps, instilling passion in the next generation of wildlife warriors. And the money you give protects all rhinos in their natural habitat. It even backs undercover investigations into the illegal wildlife trade that secure real convictions. We really can’t do any of it without you, so please donate today if you can.

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation
David Back

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All donations will help us continue our vital work conservation work to protect endangered species and turn the tide on extinction.

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