Global COVID-19 responses by governments restricted international travel, imposed national lockdowns, reduced economies, and influenced people's livelihoods. Travel restrictions and national lockdowns may constrain international illegal supply chains of high value wildlife products such as rhinoceros (rhino) horn. We evaluated whether the COVID-19 lockdown responses by South Africa induced a poaching pause on rhinos in Kruger National Park. We collated information on poaching incidences from 2017 and made predictions for expected incidences during 2020 using trends noted between 2017 and 2019. Rangers observed substantially fewer incidences of poaching during South Africa's hard lockdown. As restrictions eased, poaching incidences increased. Despite the COVID-19 poaching pause, both black and white rhinos continued to decline in Kruger National Park as recruitment could not offset poaching and natural deaths.
rhino population estimates
rhino vital rates