At the end of October, the Javan Rhino was officially declared extinct in Vietnam. Then, just a week later, a survey found that more rhinos had been killed by poachers in South Africa in 10 months of 2011 than any previous single year.
Now, there's more bad news: According to the latest assessment, no black rhinos remain in Western Africa.The assessment, which was conducted in conjunction with the IUCN, found that while overall, black and white rhino populations are on the rise, some key subspecies are particularly vulnerable to poaching. In addition to the extirpation of the Western black rhino, the group also found the the Northern white rhino was on the very brink—and may have already disappeared.
Poaching, the IUCN said, is the biggest threat to rhinos worldwide. "They had the misfortune of occurring in places where we simply weren't able to get the necessary security in place," explained Simon Stuart, chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, "you've got to imagine an animal walking around with a gold horn; that's what you're looking at, that's the value and that's why you need incredibly high security."