IUCN - African Rhino Specialist Group


The African Rhino Specialist group is the go-to scientific body for rhino conservation and population statistics. Non-partisan and informed by evidence and experience, the Group’s job is to understand the challenges facing rhinos and the best tools to counter these threats, and ensure conservationists are working together towards a common goal.

The Specialist Group meets every two–three years to collect rhino population statistics,  analyse trends in individual countries for rhino species and sub-species, support the development of continental and national rhino recovery plans, and share best practice between conservation programmes. As part of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Species Survival Commission (SSC), information the group provides on the status of rhinos in Africa, the level of threat they face, and helps the IUCN decide how to categorise each rhino species in its classifications for threatened animals such as “Critically Endangered” or “Vulnerable”.

The Specialist Group has developed a suite of resources for rhino conservationists across Africa, and provides hands-on support to numerous national wildlife authorities looking to develop rhino conservation.

The Specialist Group works with all African countries in which rhinos are found (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Rwanda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland.)

Setting the agenda for rhino conservation

The Specialist Group also provides the most comprehensive scientific evidence and information possible to CITES in advance of the Convention’s Conference of the Parties every three years. As well as sharing information on best practice for maximum growth of rhino populations and other developments in rhino conservation, the group also shares knowledge about the illegal trade in rhino horn and trafficking routes.

The Specialist Group advises CITES Parties on key issues, such as whether particular countries need more support in anti-poaching, or whether CITES Parties should take action against countries that fail to make headway in tackling the illicit wildlife trade.

So conservation practitioners, researchers and biologists can keep up to date with the latest research and news in rhino conservation, the Specialist Group Chair writes a report for each edition of the online Pachyderm magazine, and its members are encouraged to contribute.

Key achievements

 “My job involves using the collective wisdom of the group to….”

Dr Mike Knight, Chair of the African Rhino Specialist Group

“My statistical modelling has shown that black rhino populations could go into a decline they are unable to recover from – if we don’t stop the threats of poaching and habitat loss”

Dr Richard Emslie, Scientific Officer of the African Rhino Specialist Group

How Your Support Helps

Save the Rhino has supported the Specialist Group since 2006, helping to pay for the Group’s work, fund and organise the Group’s biennial meetings, salary costs for the Scientific Officer and the cost of publishing Pachyderm.

In doing so, we’re making sure that rhino conservation has access to the best experts and information in order to make the biggest impact possible for rhino populations in the wild.