Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis)


Class: Mammalia
Order: Perissodactyla
Family:    Rhinocerotidae
Size:    Height: 4.5 to 6 feet (1.3 to 1.8 m)  Length: 10 to 14 feet (3 to 4.2 m) 
Weight: 1,700 to 4,400 pounds (800 to 1,995 kg)
Diet: Plants and fruit
Distribution: Sub-Saharan Africa
Young:  1 calf every 2 to 4 years
Animal Predators:  Lions and hyenas occasionally prey on young rhinos
IUCN Status: Critically Endangered
Terms: Young: Calf
Lifespan:  Up to 50 years in captivity



·       The rhinoceros is considered one of the world’s most endangered mammals.  

·       Both males and females have horns.

·       Black rhinos have poor eyesight, but excellent hearing. 



Despite their name, black rhinos are actually grey in colour, just like white rhinos, but because they love to take a daily mud bath in black or dark brown marshy areas, they sometimes look black. The mud helps keep bugs off and keeps the rhinos cool in the hot African climate. Rhinos have two horns—a long horn at the tip of the nose and a shorter one on the bridge of the nose. The horns grow on the skin, rather than being attached to the skull, and are made of keratin, the same material found in nails, rather than bone. They are used mostly for digging up bulbs and plants for food. Black rhinos have an upper lip that enable them to handily grasp food.



Black rhinos live on grassland bordered by forest, where there is access to water. 


Feeding Habits

Black rhinos feed on trees, shrubs and fruit. They pull down branches with their horns and strip the leaves with their upper lips.



Black rhinos do not have a particular mating season, although peaks occur at different times of the year in different areas. Fighting may occur among males over one female. Pregnancies last 15 to 16 months and when the time comes for their baby to arrive, mothers hide away in dense bush to keep the young safe from predators. Newborns weigh up to 100 pounds (45 kg) and can walk 10 minutes after birth. Young rhinos are is very dependent on their mothers, nursing for two years and not becoming independent until two and a half years or more. Mothers are fiercely protective of their young and will become irritated and aggressive if they are approached by male rhinos, lions, hyenas, or humans. Females usually only give birth every two to four years, and may chase off the older offspring, but some mothers have been seen with two young rhinos of different ages and sometimes even take in an abandoned juvenile. Females reach full adult size at the age of five and males by seven years of age.



They tend to be solitary animals, but gather together in groups of about a dozen rhinos to wallow at water holes. In spite of their huge size, rhinos can run and charge at more than 30 mph, making them very dangerous when provoked. However, they are usually peaceful and timid animals unless threatened. 



Once widespread throughout sub-Saharan Africa, black rhinos have become extirpated in much of their original range and are now limited to much a smaller area, on reserves in countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. They have been reintroduced to Swaziland and Malawi. Black rhinos have been hunted to near extinction, with populations declining extremely rapidly during the second half of the last century. In 1970, 65,000 were estimated in the world; in 1981 the numbers had dropped to 10 to 15,000 and only 12 years later slightly more than 2,000 remained. The reason for the quick drop in numbers is mainly due to poachers, who kill rhinos to obtain the horns, which can net up to $25,000 each on the black market. The horn is used for ornamental dagger handles—considered a symbol of wealth in many countries—and in several Asian countries for traditional medicine.



Black Rhinoceros Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US