Black Rhino

(Diceros bicornis)
IUCN RED LIST: Critically Endangered

Intensive anti-poaching efforts have had encouraging results since 1993, and the population now numbers around 5,630 in the wild.

The black rhino is slowly coming back from horrendous losses. By 1993, fewer than 2,300 rhinos remained from populations of more than 65,000 in the 1970s. Today, black rhino numbers hover around 5,630 animals. They are also being hard-hit by poaching, but so far, are holding their own.

  • The black rhino lives in Africa, primarily in grasslands, savannahs and tropical bush lands.
  • There are three remaining black rhino sub-species occupying different areas of Africa; the Eastern black rhino (D. b. michaeli), the South-eastern or South-central black rhino (D. b. minor), and the South-western black rhino (D. b. bicornis). A fourth recognized subspecies, the Western black rhino (D. b. longipes) is considered extinct.
  • 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

Today, black rhino numbers hover around 5,630

CITES: Appendix I

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: 8- 12.5 ft (2.5-3.8m) 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.