rhino photo

Rhino poaching is at an all-time high. 

At one point, hundreds of thousands of black and white rhinos roamed the African continent, but now numbers for both species are estimated to be less than 25,000. 

Over the last few years poaching has erased decades of gains in African rhino conservation efforts, and put rhinos on the fast track to extinction.  

Where is the demand for rhino horn coming from, and why?

If you read my post, One Happy Rhino, you will know about my recent perception-changing, close encounter with a rhino, prompting me to learn more about the species.

What I found out is that many of the ‘facts’ I knew to be true about rhino poaching are just plain wrong.

This information debunks widespread common beliefs about rhino poaching and the use of rhino horn.

Here’s what I’ve learned:


False belief #1:

China is the biggest importer of rhino horn, creating and continuing to drive the demand for poaching.

Rhino Poaching Fact–The final destination for the majority of rhino horn poached in Africa is Vietnam, followed by China. 


False belief #2:

Rhino Horn is considered to be an aphrodisiac.

Rhino Poaching Fact– Rhino horn is now used as a cancer cure, and as an antidote for the hangovers of excess living (too much rich food, alcohol and drugs).  No medicinal use for rhino horn has been scientifically validated.


As you will learn next, using rhino horns as medicine is being replaced by a new practice.


False belief #3:

The majority of rhinoceros horn is used in traditional oriental medicine.

Rhino Poaching Fact–The richest Asians (including government officials) give rhino horns as bribes and gifts.  Horns from rhinos have become so expensive only the wealthiest people can afford the product, increasing its allure, and making it less practical for medicinal purposes.


False belief #4:

Dehorning rhinos before the poachers do is one viable solution to rhino poaching.

Rhino Poaching Fact–The most expensive part of the rhinos horn is the part closest to the face, making a mostly dehorned rhinoceros still vulnerable to poachers.


baby standing vigil with poached mother


We are loosing at rhino conservation efforts worldwide.

Last year rhino populations hit a tipping point. Rhino are disappearing faster than they are being born and this puts rhino on the fast track to extinction.

What we need are higher government budgets for conservation, campaigns and education involving villagers living near rhinos, and stringent penalties for convicted poachers.  A program run by Dereck and Beverly Joubert called Rhinos Without Borders is moving rhinos from highly poached areas in South Africa to protected areas in Botswana as a last ditch effort to save the species from extinction.  

The last point I want to share with you is crucial to understanding the complexities of the rhino poaching issue.  The poachers, traffickers, dealers and consumers involved in the rhino poaching syndicate have NO emotional feeling for rhinos except monetary.  People don’t generally care for things they know nothing about and have no positive experience with.

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15 Replies to “Facts debunk common beliefs about Rhino Poaching”

  1. Oh my god, that photo of the baby is intolerably heart-wrenching. #5 prompted me to look into the plight of the Asian rhinos; I only really knew about African rhinos before.

  2. Hi Shara, Yes there is so much information about Africa Rhinos but rhinos are found in India and Nepal and I find it so encouraging to know that there they are doing things right to protect the rhino. We all have a lot to learn. I hope the post is helpful to educate us all.
    Thanks for your comments.

  3. For sure the story is contented, and let the ideal spread all over the world to protect rhino poaching. Working as a team will help to stop rhino poaching. They can‘t speak but rather show feelings and actions. They could have a word to the world if they could have given ability to do so. Let us speak on behalf. Good story Lori! for l learnt a lot.

  4. Nice to see you here Cosmas from Arusha. Yes, if animals could talk, what they would tell us about how we are treating them, and what they think of us… Glad you learned a lot and I hope you will help spread the article so others may learn as well. Thanks!

  5. Poaching will definitely wipe out this species within a few years. The only way to stop this, is to declare rhino species as a national treasure in every country that has these animals.. our conservation group have studied many options, and the only solution is to elevate poaching as crimes against the nation, and against the international community. The penalty would vary, from life imprisonment, to death, for the destruction, theft, killing, smuggling of this species, or any part of it. A citizen of any country would become liable to the international community of the United Nations and if they are diplomats caught in the act, they shall lose that privilege to be exempt from criminal prosecution.

  6. Thank lori for keeping updating us who are SAFARI GUIDE i love the infos and i will spread the information

  7. HI Rick, thank your for commenting so clearly about what needs to be done. I know many people are in agreement with what you say as a solution. We need the governments to all get on board before it is too late.
    Glad to hear from you.

  8. Nice to hear from you Jaffery and for commenting on behalf of Safari Guides everywhere. I am glad you learned something because the aim here at Africa Inside is to ignite peoples passions to protect wildlife and wild places in Africa and everywhere else.
    Thanks for commenting, great to hear from you.

  9. This is beyond tragic. Rhinos have horns for a reason. Not only do they use them for defense, but females use them to nudge their young. In fact, when a baby is born, the mom use the horn to help the baby get up on its feet for the first time, a vital skill for the young so that they may learn to stand and follow their mom. It is so bad in Africa now that it doesn’t matter if the horn is removed. They are killing the animals for that small stub that remains on their faces after the horns are removed. The poachers are even killing the young who have no horns just to prove that they can. The only solution is a NO TOLERANCE policy. These people must know that if they kill a rhino, they run the risk of being killed themselves ON SITE. There is no other deterrent and I’m not sure this will work, but something must be done. It is very simple: these animals will be extinct perhaps within the next ten years unless we find a solution that is two pronged. We must significantly increase the penalties for trafficking in rhino horn and ivory and we must shoot the poachers. Harsh, but no harsher than what the poachers are doing to the animals. Darting an animal then using a chainsaw to remove their horn and leaving them to bleed to death? Hacking the horn off with a machete or knife? Why do we need people like this in our world?

  10. If onily everybody could have passions to conserve round the clock like us conservist all will be well and ajoint effort is needed!otherwise NO NONSENCE shoot to kill poacher!!!

  11. I would not include Namibia on any list for successful protection of their rhinos. Not only do they sell permits for hunting Rhinos but the number of rhinos poached in Namibia over the past 1-2 years has been astronomical.

  12. Thank you for your comment Jodie. I concur and have removed Namibia and added [relative] to the sentence to mean that other countries are only doing a better job compared to the worst countries like South Africa. I wanted to give some hope in the dismal situation but reached too far. Thanks for pointing it out.

  13. Poaching, and trophy hunting of ALL big game animals needs to end.
    Trophy hunting sends a mixed message.
    Poachers should be shot on sight. Traffickers should swiftly recieve the death penalty.

  14. I firmly believe that all pachyderm poachers should be shot on sight, and traffickers must receive the death penalty – otherwise we will have no rhinos left in Africa, and the poachers will probably move into Asia and kill people as well, who are living amongst the rhinos to protect them.

  15. Tigers in India face the same problem, It is China and Vietnam where the Tiger parts are send to for same false beliefs. You are absolutely right that the people involved in this whole business have absolutely no respect for nature. Just read couple of days back that the world has entered the 6th phase of extinction. The species are disappearing much faster today than few hundred years back. I am not being pessimist, but i think mankind will never understand the value of nature. But no worries Nature knows how to evolve back, do humans?

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