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Protecting Rhinos from Poachers

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Great Fish River


  • Quick Facts:


     64,870 hectares (250 sq. mi.)

  • Key Landmarks

    Great Fish River Nature Reserve

    Indian Ocean 

    Drakensburg Mountains (nearby) 

    Addo Elephant National Park (nearby)


The Great Fish River Nature Reserve is located in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province, an area of diverse landscapes, from the semiarid Karoo in the west to the Southern Drakensburg Mountains to spectacular beaches along the Indian Ocean. The 45,000-hectare reserve, which lies in the Great Fish River valley, is home to an important and increasingly vulnerable population of critically endangered black rhino as well as elephant, Cape buffalo, kudu, lion, and other game. The terrain of the reserve is rugged and predominately bushveld, and bisected by the Great Fish River.

Tags: South Africa, Southern Africa


Rhinos are being killed for profit.

South Africa is home to a disproportionate number of Africa’s black and white rhinos. For this reason, its parks and reserves are being targeted by sophisticated poaching operations that supply a global illegal market in rhino horn. In 2012, 668 rhinos were poached in South Africa alone, an increase from the 448 rhinos poached in 2011 and 333 rhinos poached in 2010.

Demand for rhino horn exceeds supply.

The current demand for rhino horn stems predominately from Asia, in particular from countries like China and Vietnam. Many in these countries believe rhino horn to possess medicinal properties with the ability to cure everything from cancer to a hangover. In some circles, rhino horn has become something of a status symbol among the newly wealthy and upper-middle class. Oftentimes, consumers of rhino horn do not associate the horn with a dead animal and are simply not aware as to how rhino horn is “procured” in Africa. Unfortunately, with fewer than 25,000 rhinos now in existence across Africa, the future of the rhino looks uncertain.


Our solutions to the challenges in the Great Fish River Nature Reserve:

  • Protect existing populations before it’s too late.

    While African governments and the international community debate the best way to curb the demand for rhino horn, it is necessary to maintain vigilance and protection of existing vulnerable rhino populations. African Wildlife Foundation is providing support to Great Fish River Nature Reserve to better track its rhino population, document poaching threats when they occur, and quickly change tactics and protection strategies on the ground to prevent poaching of its critical population of black rhinos.

  • Raise rhino awareness in Asia.

    Even as AWF supports direct protection of rhinos at the Great Fish River Nature Reserve and other protected areas in Africa, we realize the corresponding need to try and reduce demand for the rhino horn product. Together with our partner, WildAid, we have launched a public-awareness campaign in China and Vietnam to inform consumers of rhino horn where this product comes from, how it’s often procured, and the impact to rhinos on the ground.


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