How Many White Rhinos Are Left In The World? 

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White rhinoceros or white rhino (Ceratotherium simum) is the largest living species of rhinos. It is also known as square-lipped rhino. White rhino is further classified into two subspecies; southern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum simum) and northern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum cottoni). The southern subspecies is the most common rhino in the world with an estimated population of over 18,000 individuals. The northern subspecies is very rare with only two living individuals. Here, we gathered information about how many white rhinos are left in the world, their historic population trend, threats to their survival, and conservation efforts to save them from extinction.

How Many White Rhinos Are Left In The World?

According to the WWF (World Wildlife Fund), the number of white rhinos found in protected areas and private game reserves is over 18,000. According to IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare), the estimated number of white rhino mature individuals left in the world is only 10,080. This population is decreasing continuously.

There are two subspecies of white rhinos; southern white rhinos, and northern white rhinos. We discuss the population of both subspecies separately.

Southern White Rhinos (Ceratotherium simum simum)

Southern White Rhinos

The estimated population of southern white rhinos in December 2017 was 18,064 individuals in the wild. About 98.8% of their population occurs in four countries; South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Kenya. The majority of the southern white rhinos are found in South Africa, with a recorded number of 12,968 individuals in 2021.

The worldwide number of southern white rhinos in captivity was estimated to be over 1,000 individuals in 2021. Their conservation status on the IUCN Red List is Near Threatened.

Northern White Rhinos (Ceratotherium simum cottoni)

Northern White Rhinos

There are only two northern white rhinos left in the world since 19 March 2018. Both the remaining individuals are females; Najin was born in 1989, and Fatu was born in 2000. Both were born in Dvůr Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic. In 2009, they were brought to their natural habitat in Kenya and are now living in Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Two males, Suni and Sudan, were also brought with them. Suni died in 2014 from natural causes, and Sudan died of old age on 19 March 2018.

Their current conservation status on the IUCN Red List is Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct in the Wild).

Historical Population Trends Of White Rhinos

Population of White Rhinos

Southern white rhinos

Southern white rhinos were at the edge of extinction in the early 20th century. But they make a surprising comeback. In 2001, their population in the wild was estimated to be 11,670, and 777 were in captivity all over the world. At the end of 2007, their number in the wild further increased to about 17,480 individuals.

Northern white rhinos

Northern white rhinos were formerly found in parts of many African countries like northwestern Uganda, southern Chad, southwestern Sudan, northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, and eastern Central African Republic. The last population of wild northern white rhinos existed in the Garamba National Park of the Democratic Republic of Congo. But in 2005, aerial and ground surveys found only four individuals; a solitary male and a group of one male and two females. In 2008, the northern subspecies was reported to be extinct in the wild.

How Many White Rhinos Are Left In Captivity?

There are over 1,000 southern white rhinos in captivity throughout the world. The number of northern white rhinos in captivity is only two.

Why Did The White Rhinos Go Extinct? – Threats To White Rhinos Survival

White Rhinos Survival

The following are the major threats to white rhinos survival:


Poaching or illegal hunting is a major threat to the survival of rhinos. White rhino is especially vulnerable to poaching because it is less aggressive as compared to other rhino species. They are hunted for their horns used in traditional Asian medicines and valued at tens of thousands of dollars per kilogram. Despite international bans on rhino horn trade and anti-poaching efforts in many countries, poachers still risk their lives because of the huge amount of money they can make by selling rhino horns.

Poachers have killed up to 9,396 rhinos across Africa during the last decade. On average, poachers kill one rhino every 16 hours.

Due to poaching, the population of white rhinos in Kruger National Park of South Africa declined by 60% between 2013 and 2021. In 2017, poachers shot dead a southern white rhino in Thoiry Zoo (France), removed one of his horns, and tried to remove the second.

Habitat Loss

Habitat loss is another main threat to the survival of white rhinos. Land clearance for human settlements and agriculture continuously decreases the grazing areas of rhinos. It also breaks up their habitat into small parts, which leads to the isolation of their populations and makes it hard for them to breed.

Climate Change

Climate change is another threat that can change the distribution and quality of white rhino habitats, affecting their access to food and water. Extreme weather conditions due to climate change, like severe drought and floods, can pose a direct threat to their populations.

Conservation Efforts To Save White Rhinos

Save White Rhinos

The following are some of the conservation efforts to save white rhinos:

Anti-poaching Measures

Many protected areas and reserves have strong anti-poaching patrols, surveillance, and law enforcement to stop illegal hunting and trade of white rhino horns. Due to these efforts, poaching rates in some areas have been reduced.

Habitat Restoration

Organizations like WWF, and charity conservation Save the Rhino International, are working to expand the existing protected areas of white rhinos as an effort to restore their habitat. For this purpose, they are working to establish new protected areas and improve the management of the old ones.

Other Efforts

Small populations of southern white rhinos were reintroduced to their historical habitat range in countries like Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Zambia, and Eswatini.

To protect the northern white rhino subspecies from extinction, their last two members, Fatu and Najin, were moved from Dvůr Králové Zoo (Czech Republic) to Ol Pejeta Conservancy (Kenya) in 2009. They have been provided with constant health care observation, favorable diet, and climate.

In 2019, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), an in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure, was used to inseminate eggs from Fatu and Najin. The preserved seminal fluids of the dead males, Satu and Suni, were used for this purpose. The conservancy then announced the successful generation of two embryos on 11 September 2019. In January 2020, the generation of another embryo was announced. All the three embryos are from Fatu. All the embryos are preserved and will be grown in surrogate females.

Are There Only Two White Rhinos Left?

Yes, there are only two individuals of the northern white rhino subspecies left in the world. Unfortunately, both individuals are females, named Fatu and Najin. 


Murad Ali Khan is a researcher, writer & editor, who believes in generating quality content. He leads an awesome team of high school students, teachers & IT graduates who helps him in creating & maintaining educational Websites & Apps.
When not tinkering on the web, Murad enjoys going on hikes, read Latest Science News, plays tennis & hangs out with his friends.

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