Poaching Statistics & Facts That Will Shatter Your Heart!

Poaching Statistics

Do you ever wake up and say, “Hey, today I’m gonna snag myself a rhino horn? Or better yet, do a little bit of elephant poaching since there’s such a huge demand despite the Wildlife Conservation Society saying we’ve endangered animals to the brink of extinction. 

Poaching doesn’t just happen to South Africa’s rhino population or on safari to Kruger National Park. It occurs worldwide in many animal species. It promotes wildlife trophy hunting and illegal wildlife harvesting. Poaching even happens to fauna.

One of the best ways to stop poaching is to stop buying illegal wildlife parts on international trade. It’s about saying no and holding the poacher and end consumer accountable. Poaching destroys entire animal populations and kills those guardians, risking everything to protect them. It’s done in cold blood!

Top 10 Most Heartbreaking Facts

Poaching Truths From the Front-Line

tiger poaching facts reveal

Poaching numbers are difficult to obtain as some countries try to hide the severity, and others don’t have the resources to provide accurate figures. However, poaching is a real problem. 

To provide conclusive data, it’s vital to study reliable information. Numbers fluctuate; one moment, we hear about a decline of white rhinos, another African elephant slaughtered for its ivory tusk, and watch footage of local communities living in extreme poverty.

According to Save the Rhino, in 2022, South Africa saw a slight drop in rhino poaching, with 448 rhinos killed, three less than the previous year. WWF estimates that every year, over 20,000 African elephants tragically lose their lives to illegal tusk poaching.

One of the critical problems is poor people never benefit from poaching. It’s criminal syndicates who win.

One poached animal killed illegally leaves a void in the natural life cycle, animal community, and habitat. That humans continue to bring 30,000 species to the brink of extinction yearly is shamefully tragic!

elephant poaching

Poaching Animal Statistics

In Protecting Wildlife, Almost Two Rangers per Week Are Killed (Global Conservation)

rhino poaching

The International Ranger Federation believes this number is even higher. These rangers are professional anti-poaching rangers. Real numbers are challenging even for organizations with boots on the ground. Poachers kill many rangers, and many die accidentally. It’s a dangerous job!

Only Six Countries Have Detailed Poaching Data (Poaching Facts)

Statistics for poaching are challenging to obtain. These six countries try to manage the poaching problem by keeping semi-accurate figures. Only by monitoring the situation can authorities address the problem and protect natural resources.

  • South Africa
  • Kenya
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Botswana
  • India

Poaching Animal Facts Reveal That Nearly 30,000 Species Are Driven to Extinction Annually (Center for Biological Diversity)

How is this not on the nightly news every day? Experts call this Earth’s sixth mass extinction event; we lose three species every hour. It’s unparalleled, and the most recent extinction pattern we can witness is how human arrival in Madagascar wiped out elephants, the dodo, hippos, and lemurs. (We showed up only 2000 years ago.)

Poaching Is a Business of Approximately $5–$23 Billion per Year (World Bank)

poaching elephants

The saying that money is the root of all evil is not true! Money helps fund refuge centers, research, and conservation. Some people are the root of evil.

Aside from illegally killing wild animals, poaching is about criminal cartels that benefit at the expense of animals and local communities. Poverty doesn’t create crime; criminals who engage in poaching and black market trade rob poor communities of future opportunities.

In 2014, 386 Poachers Were Either Killed or Arrested in South Africa (Poaching Facts)

Poaching also kills poachers, and South Africa saw a significant crackdown on illegal wildlife activities, resulting in 386 poachers either facing arrest or being fatally confronted in 2014. This marked a heightened effort to protect the region’s endangered species, especially rhinos, from poaching threats.

From 2012 to 2019, 160 Million Animals Were Illegally Trafficked From Brazil (TRAFFIC)

This is definitely where end consumers need to face their crimes. Without them buying the product, the illegal wildlife trade would cease.

Perhaps you can imagine David Attenborough narrating this in your head: Brazil has the planet’s most significant biodiversity and 13% of the world’s plants and animals. With this excess, poachers trafficked 160 million animals and destroyed habitats.

Almost 100 Million Sharks Are Killed Annually (Al Jazeera)

how many elephants are killed each year

Wow, this figure is one of the most heartbreaking poaching statistics since 100 million is a ballpark figure that experts suggest is tragically low. They fear the number is nearly triple that at 273 million.

Sadly, most countries are interested in something other than regulating their coastlines or what gets trapped in fishing nets and thrown overboard.

Poaching in Africa Kills 1000 Endangered Species Within a Day (African Wildlife Foundation)

Poaching once meant a peasant killed a rabbit or pheasant to feed his family. Today, it means losing 1000 endangered animals per day in Africa, like the African elephant, mountain gorilla, imperial zebra, and rare black rhino. These animals are treading on fragile ground, heading toward extinction.

  • 1000 mountain gorillas remain
  • 2000 zebras 
  • 43% of the lion population vanished in only 21 years
  • 97.6% of black rhinos have died tragically since 1960
  • 35,000 elephants die every year to poaching

Congratulations people! Great work. These are remarkable poaching facts from 2005 to 2015.

Poaching Statistics in Africa Reveal Iconic Animals Are in Danger Because of Poaching (African Wildlife Foundation)

at what rate is africa losing rhinos?

Many conservationists and activists have been fighting for these animals for decades. We kill rhinos to treat impotence, elephant ivory for trinkets, lions for fun, tigers for fur, a gorilla for land, zebras for carpets, and sharks for soup.

  • Lions, tigers, and hippopotami are vulnerable
  • Elephants, zebra, and gorillas are endangered
  • Rhinoceros are critically endangered

Instead of Rifles and Guns, Poachers Use Poisoned Arrows To Kill Animals (Hindustan Times)

elephant poaching in africa

Poachers use poison arrows for two reasons. One, it doesn’t make a sound and alert conservation officers. Two, furs without bullet damage fetch more in the illegal international trade of endangered wild animal parts.

Poaching Rhinos Statistics

The Poaching Rate of Rhinos Is 1 per 24 Hours (Save the Rhino)

All for an erection–that’s why we kill rhinos. The rhino crisis took off in 2008 and lasted well into 2015. Numbers have slightly decreased in Africa, but one rhino still becomes a poaching victim daily. South Africa has the most rhinos and has the highest incidents of poached rhinos, reaching 1000 per year between 2013 and 2017.

rhino poached

The Whole World Has Just 27,431 Rhinos (rhinos.org)

The recent population number of five surviving rhino species, distributed across Africa and Asia, collectively totals 27,431 individuals, with Africa being home to 23,290 rhinos and Asia accounting for 4,137 of these majestic animals.

In one century, we killed 471,000 rhinos and thousands more that might have been born. Although, according to the chart, rhino poaching tapered off, 2021 saw an increase in poaching since 2015. Some blame the pandemic, and as curfews lifted, criminal syndicates began trafficking in rhinos again.

According to Rhino Poaching Statistics 2020, the Rate of Rhino Poaching in Early 2020 Decreased by 50% Due to COVID-19 (Rhino Review)

african elephant poaching

Rhinos got a short reprieve from being hunted to extinction in 2020 when curfews made it difficult for syndicates to move rhino goods. Statistics suggest that Africa’s poaching rates dropped from 5.3% to 2.3% in 2021.

However, 2707 rhinos died from poaching between 2018 and 2021. This number includes white rhinos and critically endangered black rhinos.

The Number of Black Rhinos Worldwide Is More Than 6,487 (rhinos.org)

how many elephants are killed a year

And you thought that 6,487 black rhinos were a lousy number. It’s a number to celebrate thanks to the dedication of African conservationists who doubled this number from a 20-year low. Thank you!

In 2015, Poachers Killed 1,349 Rhinos Which Marked the Highest Rhino Poaching Rate in Africa (Save the Rhino)

Kruger National Park is supposed to be a sanctuary for South African rhinos. Rhinos aren’t also eradicated by poaches, but severe climate change is causing periods of drought to hinder their survival further.

rhinos in south africa

The Worst Poaching Catastrophe Was Observed in 2013 When Poaching Spread From South Africa to Kenya and Afterwards From Zimbabwe to Namibia (Save the Rhino)

Poaching gangs from Zimbabwe pretty much wiped out their rhino populations due to poverty and politically difficult times (no excuse) and then began trespassing on neighboring countries.

South Africa saw a considerable increase between 2009 -2014. Kenya fell in 2013 with 59 rhinos killed (5% of the rhino population), then in 2015, Zimbabwe lost 50, and Namibia lost 80 rhinos. The year 2015 was the worst in two decades.

The Population of White Rhino is between 1711 and 1988 in Kruger National Park in South Africa (SANParks)

rhinos south africa

The white rhino population has experienced a decline to a range between 1,711 and 1,988 in 2022, while black rhino numbers have decreased to 210 compared to the figures from 2021.

As of the 2021 update, rhino populations in Kruger National Park have seen a significant decline. Recent data indicates that the rhino numbers in the park have dropped by an alarming 60% since 2013. In 2021 this world-famous park was home to 3,529 South African white rhinos. Additionally, 268 rare black rhinos lived here

At the start of the 20th Century, There Were 500,000 Rhinos in Africa and Asia (WWF)

rhinos population

This chart visually demonstrates how drastic these events are for thousands of animals and how quickly people destroy an animal.

Vietnam Has the Biggest Rhino Horns Poaching Hub, Where a Single Pound of It Is Sold From $15,000 to $30,000 (African Wildlife Foundation)

An estimate from conservationists indicates that rhino horn fetches an exorbitant price of approximately $60,000-$65,000 per kilogram on the Asian market. With this astonishing value, a stockpile of 30 tonnes could potentially yield a staggering sum of up to $2 billion.

Education has to be the key. Rhino horns are keratin, not a miracle cure for cancer. Yet the recent increase in rhino horns has dire consequences for the remaining rhinos. A ‘Stop the Demand’ campaign in Vietnam is making some headway to stop international trade in endangered rhino horn.

By 2030, the Rate of Rhino Poaching Will Increase by 356% (AFW)

poaching statistics

Data from AWF indicates that rhino poaching is projected to rise by approximately 356% from 2015 to 2030. Rhinos have been on the hunting list of poached animals since the colonial era in the First Rhino War. Conservationists fear that the rhinos from today won’t live to be accounted for in 2030.

According to recent reports, there has been a decline in rhino poaching in some areas due to increased conservation efforts and anti-poaching measures.

Poaching Elephants Statistics  

In Botswana, 35,000 Elephants Are Slaughtered Annually (AFW)

The last of the elephants need our help. Africa is trying to eradicate iconic species, which will soon be distant memories. The demand for ivory still drives elephant poaching, including the 130,000 elephants roaming the African plains. 

Do the math:

130,000 elephants

-35,000 killed yearly

= not enough time to save them

Really, you need an ivory trinket?

Every 26 minutes, on average, one African elephant dies for its ivory (IFAW)

rhino south africa

We kill elephants for ivory. The U.S. banned ivory only in 2016 – shocking! China said they’d do the same, but with the rise of the Chinese middle class, it’s not looking good. Even if elephants weren’t on the eve of extinction, does it make sense to kill them for a tusk?

The situation is dire for African elephants as the number of elephants being poached each year exceeds those being born. With over 20,000 elephants falling victim to poaching annually, urgent action is necessary to prevent their extinction. Shockingly, poachers claim the life of an African elephant approximately every 26 minutes.

The Average Cost of Ivory Has Increased to 1,019% in the Black Market (Bristol University)

south africa rhino

No one can deny ivory carvers have impressive skills. But can’t they use wood? Seriously, Asian markets are driving the demand, and between 1989 and 2014, ivory increased in value. Sadly, ivory is still traded legally, not that it matters since the black market of illegal goods thrives.

The Poaching Rate of African Elephants Was Highest in 2011, Then It Gradually Declined (ScienceDaily)

Despite a reprieve from poaching, the elephant population remains tiny at 350,000 elephants, and 10-15,000 become poaching victims yearly. CITES revealed that 2011 saw a crest of 10% poaching mortality, dropping to 4% in 2017.

Among the 50,000 Elephants Inhabiting Asia Today, 40% of Them Are in Captivity (Poaching Facts)

poaching rhinos

The elephant is a crucial cultural animal in Asian culture. India trained wild elephants to perform domestic chores and even warfare. Today, 40% of 50,000 Asian elephants live in captivity. Although poaching and legal killing are responsible for their decline, so is habitat loss.

The Number of Elephants Has More Than Doubled in Past 30 Years, From 16,000 in 1989 to 34,800 in 2021 (The Journal of African Elephants)

Sometimes, we get it right, but it’s not time to celebrate yet. Kenya knows that a healthy elephant population drives its tourist economy. However, there is a 2.8% elephant growth increase alongside a poaching decline. Isn’t it better to make money off wealthy tourists?

At the Start of the 20th Century, There Were 100,000 Elephants in Asia and a Few Million in Africa (WWF)

poachers in africa

The Asian elephant has smaller ears (and other differences) and once had a significant habitat spanning from the Persian Gulf to India and to China. But their numbers have dwindled by 50%, and their habitat shrunk by 15%.

Satao, the Most Adored Elephant in Kenya, Was Killed by a Poacher’s Poisoned Arrow in 2014 (National Geographic)

Speechless is a good word, only it doesn’t apply here! How, insert a long string of expletives, can someone be so heartless? Satao had something this poaching (insert more swear words) wanted: a 6.5-foot-long tusk. The poison arrow caused this iconic animal to die a horrific death.

Poaching Tiger Statistics

According to Poaching Stats, the Number of Tigers Has Declined to 3,900 From 100,000 Within a Century (WWF)

how many elephants are left in the world 2017

The remaining 3,900 tigers live in 4% of their historic range. It’s challenging to write about these awful stats without anger. It’s nearly impossible to look at the photos. Tigers are beautiful, yet we’ve decimated their population to almost zero. Poachers kill tigers for their fur, meat, and bones.

Habitat loss makes life for these regal creatures nearly impossible. Using traps is inhumane and disgusting. Not sure how anyone can go trophy hunting these elusive beauties.

The average number of tigers in India is 3682 (PIB)

poaching statistics 2022

An analysis conducted by the Wildlife Institute of India, utilizing data from both areas monitored by camera traps and those without camera surveillance, has estimated the tiger population’s upper limit at 3,925, with an average count of 3,682 tigers. This indicates an impressive annual growth rate of 6.1%.

Wild Tigers Inhabit Just 13 Countries Around the Globe (WWF)

rhino poaching statistics

We’ve lost 97% of the wild tiger population in the last century. Bangladesh, Vietnam, Cambodia, India, Bhutan, Thailand, Indonesia, Laos, China, Malaysia, Russia, Nepal, and Myanmar are lucky enough to have tigers.

In 2022, 39 Tigers in India Were Killed by Poachers (Wildlife Protection Society of India)

In 2021, that number jumped to 56, as the demand for tiger bone and fur won’t end. Many more tigers die from other causes, but it’s evident that poaching and consumer demand are the primary causes of tiger death.

The Most Prominent Threat to Tigers in the Wildlife Is Poaching and Illegal Wildlife Trade (WWF)

Poaching, crime syndicates, illegal black market trade, and the end consumer are killing tigers faster than conservation efforts can establish them.

Poaching Gorilla Statistics

Depending on the Subspecies, All Gorilla Species Fall Either Under the Endangered or Critically Endangered Category (WWF)

poaching statistics in africa

We’ve only known about mountain gorilla subspecies since 1902. We’ve subjected them to ruthless hunting and habitat destruction. We waged war around them and did everything else to wipe them off the Earth.

Luckily, some conservation efforts are seeing some recovery in Virunga Massif. There are 604 gorillas, part of the rare 1000 gorilla population. 

The Western Lowland Gorilla Is the Most Widespread Gorilla Species (WWF)

when did rhino poaching start

Counting the lowland gorillas in the dense and remote jungle is difficult. This ape is also a master at hiding, but the best guess suggests 100,000 apes.

People Estimated the Mountain Gorilla Would Become Extinct by the End of the 20th Century (WWF)

Almost did it, but then those pesky people we call conservationists never stop trying to save these primates!

Poaching Statistics of Other Endangered Animal Species

Wildlife Tourism Is Worth 5 Times More Than the Poaching Industry (Natural Habitat Adventures)

poaching in africa

Who knew there was so much money in not killing all the animals and employing 9.1 million people? Wildlife tourism is a prosperous part of the global GDP, at $120.1 billion. Poaching is worth $23 billion, but communities don’t get a share.

According to 2020 Stats, the Giant Panda Is No Longer an Endangered Species (IUCN)

Yeah! Who doesn’t love a giant panda? These adorable creatures are upgraded (downgraded sounds bad) from endangered to vulnerable. Good work, people!

More Than 1000 Whales Are Hunted Yearly, Although Commercial Whaling Is Banned Worldwide (IFAW)

whale and dolphin conservation

Yes, governments and fishing regulators banned whaling in 1986. Yet, we still hunt 1,000 whales for some stupid commercial whaling enterprises. Go whale watching instead of whale killing!

In Baja, California, More Than 30,000 Green Turtles Are Poached Annually (WWF)

These adorable turtles already face a massive survival challenge when they hatch on the dunes of the Baja. Although poaching them for meat is bad enough, thousands die in fishing nets. As of 2020, they’re on the endangered list.

There Are Only 10,000 Cheetahs Left in the World Today, As Poachers Have Been Killing Them for Decades (Big Cat Rescue)

poaching in africa statistics

Not even the world’s fastest land animal can escape the perils of poaching. In 1970, the cheetah population hovered at 25,000; now, we’re down to 10,000 or 10% from the 1900s. Poachers aren’t their only enemy. Farmers kill to protect their livestock, and we continue encroaching on their habitat.

Ivory Poaching and Violent Conflicts Are Deeply Connected in Africa (University of Birmingham)

animal poaching statistics 2021

It’s been argued that poachers poach because they’re poor – not true. It’s a fact that poachers are criminals, and the illegal ivory trade is a means to an end for gangs who want to control territory.

Chinese Traditional Medicine (TCM)Is Worth $60 Billion Yearly (National Geographic)

Tigers, rhinos, and other exotic animals are dying for an ancient Chinese myth. Science has proven that these remedies don’t work. Yet, in 180 countries, consumers spend $60 billion annually fueling the illegal poaching trade.

In 2022, 125 adult Amur leopards were identified in Russia and 46 in China in 2019 (WWF)

poaching statistics 2020

This stunning feline has almost vanished from our planet, and only 125 Amur leopards exist in Russia and 46 in China. Conservation efforts are seeing marginal improvements. However, this feline isn’t out of the woods yet; we continue to destroy its habitat.


Which Country Has the Highest Poaching Rate?

South Africa continues to top this list, though poaching is a problem in every country.

How Many Animals Die Annually Due to Poaching?

Where to begin? There are 100,000 million sharks, thousands of iconic animals, millions of deer, millions of fish, birds, and exotic animals for the pet trade. The number is astronomical!

Are Baby Animals Killed by Poachers?

Baby animals are often just a nuisance that poachers slaughter or let die because they just murdered their mother. Others fall into the hands of traffickers in the illegal wildlife trade.

Why Is Poaching So Bad?

Firstly, it kills millions of animals to extinction levels. Secondly, it throws off the natural balance in wildlife habitats. Thirdly, it promotes trade in illegal goods and funds crime syndicates and wars. Fourthly, it destroys communities that lose out on the tourist trade.

How Has the Poaching Trend Changed in Recent Years?

Some areas are experiencing a decline; others are seeing a resurgence. Education is an essential tool for wildlife conservation, as is not buying animal parts.

What Is Poaching?

Poaching isn’t always killing animals for meat, fur, or body parts. Poaching is taking wildlife without the right to do so of either protected or unprotected animal species. It also includes plants. 

Where Does Poaching Occur?

Poaching is a global problem. In Africa, it’s rhinos and elephants; in the USA, it’s deer, moose, bears, etc. It also includes plants and corals.

What Can Be Done To Stop Poaching?

Education, advocacy, and prevention of the sale of goods containing animal parts. 

Wrap Up

The answer to stopping animal poaching is you. Yes, you! One person has the power to make a difference. Stop buying exotic animals, don’t buy trinkets made from ivory or coral, and definitely don’t buy wild animal parts like furs or restorative material.

Planet Earth needs you to help end ivory poaching on the beautiful African continent and end the poaching crisis everywhere.

To make a difference by supporting a conservation society, you help end the illegal trade of rhino horn poaching

You are the one. Self-included!

Monika Martyn
Monika Martyn is a nomadic minimalist and published author. Her pet portfolio includes experience with over forty cats and dogs, and she becomes their surrogate and a valued pack member. One of her proudest accomplishments is typing while petting a fur baby on her lap. She also excels at dog-speak and cat-talk and is working on mastering fish lingo. Aside from her animal advocacy, she is passionate about the environment, plastic pollution, and living with less (not including chocolate and coffee). She practices yoga and meditation faithfully. She’s experienced living abroad and believes that together people can evoke change for the better. Or at least be kind to one another despite our differences. She has an uncanny knack for remembering people’s names. She’s proud of her two Pushcart Nominations, her debut novel, and her marriage. When she’s not writing, she’s thinking about writing. Monika believes that education is the biggest gift to humanity at any age.

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