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Black Rhino

IUCN Red List: Critically Endangered
CITES:  Appendix I

During the last century, the black rhino has suffered the most drastic decline in total numbers of all rhino species. Between 1970 and 1992, the population of this species decreased by 96%. In 1970, it was estimated that there were approximately 65,000 black rhinos in Africa – but, by 1993, there were only 2,300 surviving in the wild.  Intensive anti-poaching efforts have had encouraging results since 1996. Numbers have been recovering and still are increasing very slowly. With the growing purchasing power of many Asian countries, and the existence of organized gangs of poachers who sell rhino horn to black market syndicates in some range countries, the poaching threat remains great and anti-poaching efforts must be continued and accelerated.
 

Current Black Rhino Numbers and Distribution
There are currently approximately 5,055 black rhinos surviving (IUCN African Rhino Specialist Group, 2013).
 

Biology

  • The black rhino lives in Africa, primarily in grasslands, savannahs and tropical bush lands.
  • There are four black rhino sub-species.
  • Black rhinos are browsers. Their prehensile upper lip is adapted for grasping and holding leaves and branches of shrubs and trees. This adaptation is the species' most distinguishing characteristic.
  • Black rhinos can live to be 30-35 years in the wild and more than 45 years in captivity.
  • Gestation lasts approximately 15-16 months, and mothers give birth to one calf every 2.5-3 years. Females reach sexual maturity between 4 and 7 years of age; males mature between 7 and 10 years of age.
  • Black rhinos are semi-social and territorial. Females and subadults generally are social, but bulls are typically solitary.  Sometimes, satellite males may reside within one another’s territories.
  • Adult female black rhinos have overlapping ranges and are not really as solitary as often portrayed. Males are generally solitary and may be territorial.  Black rhino home ranges vary greatly, depending on the habitat and to some extent on sex and age. 
black-rhino-distribution-map(1)

Common Names

  • Black rhinoceros. Black rhinos are actually not black at all. The species probably derives its name as a distinction from the white rhino (itself a misnomer) and/or from the dark-colored local soil that often covers its skin after wallowing in mud.
  • Prehensile or hook-lipped rhinoceros. The upper lip of the black rhino is adapted for feeding from trees and shrubs and is its best distinguishing characteristic.

Scientific Name and Origin

Diceros bicornis

Dicero from the Greek “di”, meaning "two" and “ceros”, meaning "horn" and “bicornis” from the Latin “bi”, meaning "two" and “cornis”, meaning "horn." 


Physical Characteristics

Size

Weight: 1,750 - 3,000 lbs (800 - 1,350 kg) 
Height: 4.5 - 5.5 ft (1.4 - 1.7 m) tall at shoulder
Length: 10- 12.5 ft (3.0-3.8m) length of head and body


Horn

Black rhinos have two horns. The front (anterior) horn is larger and measures 1 foot, 8 inches (0.5 - 1.3 m). The rear (posterior) horn is smaller and measures up to 22 inches (55 cm) long. 
 

Other Features: Relatively broad snout with a prehensile lip adapted for grasping branches and leaves.