Black Rhino

(Diceros bicornis)
IUCN RED LIST: Critically Endangered

Intensive anti-poaching efforts have had encouraging results since 1996, and the population now numbers more than 5,050.

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. The black rhino population is recovering and increasing very slowly, but the poaching threat remains great.

  • 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.
  • Black rhinos can live to be 30-35 years in the wild.
  • Gestation lasts approximately 15-16 months, and mothers give birth to one calf every 2.5-3 years.
  • Females and sub-adults generally are social, but bulls are typically solitary.
  • Adult female black rhinos have overlapping ranges and are not really as solitary as often portrayed. Males are generally solitary and may be territorial.
Current Black Rhino Numbers and Distribution

There are currently approximately 5,055 black rhinos surviving (IUCN African Rhino Specialist Group, 2013).

CITES: Appendix I

Species map
Historical Range indicator Historical range Current Range indicator Current range Unconfirmed occurence indicator Unconfirmed Occurance
Common Names

Black rhinoceros. Black rhinos are not black. The species probably derives its name as a distinction from the white rhino and/or from the dark-colored local soil that 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.

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


  • 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


Black rhinos have two horns. The front horn is larger and measures 20 - 55 inches (0.5 - 1.3 m). The rear 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.