Black rhino

(Diceros bicornis)

The African Rhino Specialist Group (AfRSG) of the IUCN’s Species Survival Commission (SSC) estimates a 4.2% growth in black rhino populations from 2021 to 2022 with approximately 6,487 individuals across Africa.

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.


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.”


Today, the wild black rhino population is more than 6,487.


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.

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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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