A species on the brink: The rhino crisis in South Africa

Authors: Michael Slattery*, Texas Christian University, William Fowlds, Amakhala Game Reserve
Topics: Animal Geographies, Environment, Coupled Human and Natural Systems
Keywords: Rhinoceros, South Africa, poaching
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: Download


Over the past five years, South Africa has lost 5,517 rhinos to poaching. Conservationists agree that the wild populations of rhino have surpassed the “tipping point” and are now in decline.

For the past five years, TCU has collaborated with several non-profits in the Eastern Cape of South Africa to conceptualize and implement a holistic strategy, known as the African Rhino Conservation Collaboration (ARCC), in response to the rhino-poaching crisis. The ARCC includes 10 Intensive Protection Zones on Private Game Reserves, all collaborating in species and habitat management, education and awareness, advanced protection systems, law enforcement, and community-based, socioeconomic alternatives to poaching. TCU’s involvement is coordinated through the TCU Rhino Initiative, which not only focuses on education and awareness of the rhino-poaching crisis in South Africa, but also internationally, including Vietnam. The TCU Rhino Initiative received the Senator Paul Simon Spotlight Award in 2017 from Association of International Educators in recognition of this work.

Since 2014, our involvement in the Eastern Cape has confirmed that, while law enforcement plays a crucial role in deterring poachers, there appears to be no single answer to combat the current poaching crisis. A multi-faceted approach is required including ongoing anti-poaching and monitoring patrols, community conservation and environmental education schemes, captive breeding, translocations, and demand reduction projects in Asia. We argue that a key component to the protection of rhino (and wildlife in general) involves furthering the socio-economic aspirations of the region by recruiting the active participation of local communities in wildlife conservation.

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