The Black rhino is, as a full species, classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN. The south-central, eastern and western subspecies are also classified as Critically Endangered. The south-western subspecies is classified as vulnerable (IUCN 2012).
Black rhinos have been listed on CITES Appendix I since 1977. All international commercial trade in Black rhinos and their products have been prohibited. To help reduce illegal trade and complement CITES international trade bans, domestic anti-trade measures and legislation were implemented in the 1990s by a number of consumer states. Effective field protection of rhino populations has been critical. Many remaining rhinos are now concentrated in fenced sanctuaries, conservancies, rhino conservation areas and intensive protection zones where law enforcement effort can be concentrated at effective levels. Monitoring has also provided information to guide biological management decision-making aimed at managing rhino populations for rapid population growth. This has resulted in surplus animals being translocated to set up new populations both within and outside the species’ former range. Following a decline in breeding performance in some areas, increased effort has recently been given to improving biological management with a view to increasing metapopulation growth rates.
Increasing efforts are also being made to integrate local communities into conservation efforts. Strategically, Black rhinos are now managed by a range of different stakeholders (private sector and state) in a number of countries increasing their long term security. In contrast to southern White rhino, most Black rhino on privately owned land are managed on a custodianship basis for the state. In addition to local and national initiatives, there are a number of regional African rhino conservation initiatives: the South African Development Community (SADC) Regional Programme for Rhino Conservation, the SADC Rhino Management Group, the SADC Rhino Recovery Group, and the Southern African Rhino and Elephant Security Group. IUCN SSC’s African Rhino Specialist Group is the continental coordinating body for rhino conservation in Africa (African rhino specialist group, 2003).