It has been estimated that there may have been as many as 850,000 Black Rhinos in Africa around 1700, and throughout most of the twentieth century, the Black Rhino was still the most numerous of the world’s rhino species. However, relentless hunting of the species and clearance of land for settlement and agriculture have led to a reduction in the population of probably several hundred thousand at the turn of the century.
There may still have been as many as 100,000 animals in Africa in 1960, but in 1970, it was estimated that there were only 65,000 left, by which time Kenya still had some 16,000–20,000 animals. From 1970 to 1992, large-scale hunts caused a sharp decrease in the number.
The most important cause of this decline was a big increase in the price of rhino horns. From 1992 to 1995, the total number remained relatively stable with increases in some countries (those with the most protected and managed areas populations) being negated by declines in others.
The minimum population estimate in 1995 was approximately 2410. Since 1995, Populations of Black Rhinos at the continental level have steadily increased, reaching 3,610 at the end of 2003, 3,725 in December 2005, 4,230 in December 2007, and 4,880 in 2010.
Two countries have shown net increases in numbers of Black Rhinos over the period 1980 to 2010: South Africa and Namibia. In both countries, investments in conservation programs, including monitoring and enforcement of Law, have been high.