The Rhino Family
The The African Rhino Specialist Group (AfRSG) of the IUCN’s Species Survival Commission (SSC) estimates a 12% growth in black rhino populations in recent years, from approximately 5,495 individuals in 2017 to more than 6,000 today.
Black rhino populations suffered a drastic decline at the end of the 20th century. Between 1970 and 1993, the population of black rhinos decreased by 96% from approximately 65,000 to only 2,300 surviving in the wild. Since 1996, intense anti-poaching efforts and strategic translocations to safer areas have allowed the species to slowly recover. Poaching still looms as the greatest threat.
IUCN Red List Status: Critically endangered & Population increasing
- The black rhino lives in Africa, primarily in grasslands, savannahs and tropical bush lands.
- There are three 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 35 – 40 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.
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.”
CURRENT BLACK RHINO NUMBERS AND DISTRIBUTION
Today, the black rhino population is more than 6,000
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.
The black rhino once numbered in the hundreds of thousands of animals throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, but unregulated hunting and poaching reduced the wild population to perhaps 2,300 individuals in the early 1990s – a loss of more than 96% that brought the species close to the brink of extinction.
Some of the largest home ranges measured are those of black rhinos inhabiting the vast Serengeti. In fact, it’s not unusual for an individual to roam an area of more than 100 square kilometers. The abundance of waterholes, wallows and salt-licks factors into home range size as much as food availability.
The black rhino has no front incisor teeth, so it relies heavily on its lips to bring food to its mouth.
Rhino horn is made of compressed keratin fibers, the same material that is found in fingernails and hair.
The black rhino has a prehensile upper lip that allows it to feed on trees and shrubs.
The Black Rhino Needs Your Help
A History of protection
Learn about our history of protecting the black rhino.
Zimbabwe lowveld rhino program
See what we’ve been doing for black rhinos.
Adopt a Black rhino
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