Home Species We Protect Rhinos Threats to Rhinos
David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

Threats to Rhinos

The biggest threats to rhino populations are the illegal wildlife trade, habitat loss, and how climate change impacts some of their key habitats. Not only have rhinos lost significant aspects of their traditional range, but several countries across Africa and Asia have now lost their rhinos forever.

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation
David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

Why are rhinos endangered?

Save the Rhino Trust
rhino and calf

Habitat Loss and Human Encroachment

From species sharing small islands with us to populations in the shadow of our growing urban spaces and civilisation itself, every species of rhino is impacted by human presence. Whether its our agricultural advancements changing grassland compositions or our expanding urban sprawl and development segregating rhino populations into isolated areas, this encroachment can be devastating.

All rhinos are slow and sensitive breeders. Without appropriate space in the right environment, their biological instinct tells them things aren’t right, and wild populations decline as fewer animals choose to breed.

Habitat loss also happens without human help. Natural disasters and climate change can cause disease to spread, for new species to establish themselves and compete for resources, and for large segments of sensitive populations to be killed off.

Climate Change

Andrew White
David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

Climate change is impacting rhino populations on several fronts. In Asia, flooding caused by increased, severe rainfall, and tropical storms that can tear landscapes apart, destroys their limited habitat in seconds, and can kill or injure animals directly.

As temperatures increase, rhinos are forced to spend more time cooling their thick skins during the hottest parts of the day. As they try to stay cool by seeking shade or wallowing in mud for longer periods, this impacts how much time they can then spend browsing for food. Animals that are stressed, nutritiously deficient, or aware of limited resources are less likely to breed successfully. 

And just as with the impacts of flooding, a warmer or more humid climate can lead to disastrous rises in disease-spreading parasites such as mosquitoes, or those that can wipe out food resources, like locusts.

In Namibia, where DSWF directly supports and funds a project protecting a unique population of desert-adapted black rhino, climate change can cause long-lasting droughts that pushes rhinos away from protected areas to find water. This pushes both the animals and the ranger teams committed to protecting them to the limit. Drought can also kill off the scrub and brush vegetation these rhinos have adapted to survive off.

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

Illegal Wildlife Trade

In the last decade, more than 10,000 rhinos have been lost to the poaching epidemic in Africa alone, with their horn now valued higher than the price of gold on the black market.

Used in traditional medicines in Asia and as a status symbol, consumer demand for rhino horn is higher than ever before and pushing this magnificent creature closer to extinction.

Poaching is now a threat throughout all rhino range states and the scarcity of wild populations only drives the price for rhino horn higher.

You can support our work to save endangered animals from extinction by adopting today.

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

A monthly donation of £{{ item.amount }}
{{ item.reason }}

A one-off donation of £{{ item.amount }}
{{ item.reason }}

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

Donate in aid of rhinos today!

£40 could help to educate local communities neighbouring rhino habitats on the importance of rhino conservation.

How often do you want to donate?
Choose a monthly amount
Choose a one off amount
We ask for a minimum donation of £{{ minimum_donation_amount }}
Drag Read