The IUCN conservation status is rated as Near Threatened. Although the Greater Rhea has a large geographic range, its populations are declining at a rate that is cause for concern. The primary threats faced by the rhea are hunting for meat and for skins, and the conversion of natural grasslands for agriculture and for ranching (BirdLife International 2009).
Effects of human activity on populations
Farming and ranching have fragmented the Greater Rhea's native habitat, while trade and commercialization of rhea meat, eggs, skin, and oil have contributed hugely to their decline (BirdLife International 2009). More than 50,000 rhea skins were traded in 1980, mostly exported from captive populations in Paraguay, with Japan and the United States as the primary consumers (Folch 1992).