95% of the world's rhinos have been lost in the past 40 years


All rhino species are critically endangered, except the Southern white rhino, which has recovered from around 50 to over 20,000 individuals since the 1960s. The precipitous decline of African rhinos everywhere outside of South Africa was halted in 1993 by tough action from the Convention of the International Trade of Flora and Fauna (CITES), which led to the sanctioning of Taiwan by the Clinton Administration and the banning of domestic sales of rhino horn (international trade ban being in place since 1975) in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. This process involved the arrest of rhino horn sellers and a public burning of rhino horn in China and tremendous publicity surrounding the sanctions in Taiwan. Between 1994 and 2008 both Black and Southern white rhino populations grew steadily.

In 2008 poaching started to rise and last year the world witnessed record levels of rhino poaching in South Africa and Zimbabwe with the main markets identified as Vietnam and China. In 2012, a record 668 rhinos were killed for their horns in South Africa. Already by early November 2013, over 860 rhinos have been killed.

During this time legal trophy hunting of rhinos in South Africa was infiltrated by Vietnamese organized crime. Suddenly a large number of rhino horn “trophies” were exported from South Africa to Vietnam and it appears that this was used to develop new markets in Vietnam, which are now being fed by horns from poaching. In addition, increased Chinese economic activity in Africa contributed to an increase in the apprehension of Chinese smuggling rhino horn.

While tens of millions of dollars are spent annually on studying and protecting rhinos in the wild, since the 1993 interventions only a few hundred thousand dollars has been spent on addressing the underlying demand for rhino horn that drives poaching.

What is WildAid doing?: 

In 2013, we launched a three-year campaign to reduce rhino horn demand in China. The kick-off featured new public service messages from longtime WildAid Ambassador Yao Ming and actor/director Jiang Wen that were broadcast thousands of times on nearly two dozen TV channels in the first two months of the campaign.

Moving forward, our goal is to use existing methodology, networks, and contacts from our shark fin campaign to:

  • Raise awareness in Vietnam and China of the rhino-poaching crisis.
  • Support Vietnamese lawmakers in banning rhino horn sales and increased enforcement efforts there and in China.
  • Measurably reduce demand for rhino horn in Vietnam and China.

In addition, messages were recorded with China’s leading actress Li Bing Bing, iconic film star Jackie Chan, and American actress Maggie Q, as well as forming a collaboration between The Duke of Cambridge (Prince William), sports icon David Beckham, and Yao Ming.

We also developed partnerships with African Wildlife Foundation, Education for Nature­–Vietnam, and the National Basketball Association. We continue to liaise with the Chinese State Forestry Administration and are encouraged to see them reach out to all Chinese travelling abroad in a message not to buy rhino horn via Chinese cell phone providers.

In 2014, we will continue to build momentum by creating more new messages and extensive street-level and social media campaigns. Our continuing partnership with Sina Weibo (e.g. China’s Twitter) will help spread our messages as we create an editorial board of celebrity ambassadors to share facts alongside their personal views online.

The Impact Timeline

  • March, 2013: We compile the “Rhino Horn Demand” report, showing a significant lack of knowledge among China’s residents regarding rhino poaching and a strong willingness to ban rhino horn once presented with the facts of the trade.
  • April, 2013: Together with Yao Ming and the African Wildlife Foundation we launch the “Say No to Rhino Horn” campaign in Beijing.
  • April, 2013: CCTV and nearly two dozen broadcast stations begin airing several public service massages featuring Yao Ming’s recent visit to Africa.
  • May, 2013: China’s leading actress, Li Bing Bing, films a public service message to air in China and Vietnam (release date TBD).
  • June, 2013: WildAid Ambassador Jackie Chan films a public service message to air in China and Vietnam (release date TBD).
  • June, 2013: WildAid Ambassador and American actress Maggie Q films a public service announcement to air in China and Vietnam (release date TBD).
  • September, 2013: Along with our partner African Wildlife Foundation, we officially launch the “Say No to Rhino Horn” campaign in Vietnam.
  • September, 2013: Along with African Wildlife Foundation, we officially launch “The Sickening Truth” graphic video message online in three languages: English, Mandarin, and Vietnamese.
  • September, 2013: The Duke of Cambridge (Prince William), sports icon David Beckham, and Yao Ming meet in London to film two public service messages for WildAid (first message released December 2013, second message release date TBD).
  • September, 2013: We re-launch Yao Ming’s blog as he re-visits Kenya to continue filming for “The End of the Wild” documentary to be released in 2014.
  • October, 2013: WildAid Ambassador, artist, and activist Asher Jay creates the “Blood Horn” and “Africa’s Panda’s” campaigns for publications in China and an English language social media initiative.
  • November, 2013: Education for Nature–Vietnam officially joins the “Say No to Rhino Horn” campaign in Vietnam, assisting with broadcast television outreach.
  • November, 2013: Together with NBA Cares, we launch a broadcast and social media campaign in China featuring Pau Gasol of the L.A. Lakers.
  • December, 2013: We launch "Fatherhood", a new public service message featuring The Duke of Cambridge (Prince William), sports icon David Beckham, and Yao Ming.
  • January, 2014: Yao Ming appears on CNN International to discuss the demand for ivory and the elephants he saw killed for their tusks during his visit to Africa with WildAid.
  • January, 2014: South Africa announces that 1,004 of its rhinos were poached in 2013, a sharp increase from 13 in 2007. An additional 37 rhinos are killed for their horns in the first few weeks of 2014.