Black rhinos live in the woodlands, wetlands, forests, and semi-desert savannah regions of eastern and southern Africa. They’re known for being fast runners that can reach speeds of up to 28 mph. They browse for their food, which includes twigs, leafy plants, and legumes. The lifespan of a black rhino is between 30 to 35 years in the wild and 45 years or more in captivity.
Scientific & Common Names
Kingdom - Animalia
Phylum - Chordata
Class - Mammalia
Order - Perissodactyla
Family - Rhinocerotidae
Genus - Diceros
Species - D. bicornis
Common Names - Black Rhinoceros, Hook-lipped Rhinoceros
Black rhinos are actually mainly gray in color. Their thick hide, which they cover with mud to prevent insect bites and sunburn, protects them from predators. Black rhinos have two horns, with the front horn being larger than the other. Adults weigh between 1,760 to 3,080 pounds and measure between 4.5 to 6 feet in height.
Black rhinos typically breed every two years after reaching reproductive maturity, which is between five to seven years for females and seven to eight years for males. Following a gestation period of 15 months, females give birth to one offspring. The calf stays with its mother until it’s around four years old.
Black rhinos are considered the most aggressive rhino species. Males charge other males and use their larger horn if the charge results in a fight. Male black rhinos live alone, while females live with their offspring. Black rhinos, in general, tend to remain in one area instead of roaming. They mark their territories by urinating and defecating.
Black rhinos used to have the largest populations compared to other rhino species. Their numbers went from roughly 850,000 in the early 20th century to around 2,400 by 1995, which represents a loss of 98 percent of the species. This loss was mainly due to aggressive hunting and poaching to obtain rhino horns for medicinal or ornamental use.
The black rhino has been listed as a Critically Endangered species since 1996. A subspecies that was once found in Cameroon was officially declared extinct in 2013. Three subspecies remain, but their numbers are still low due to poaching. Efforts to protect the species include bans on international commercial trade involving black rhinos and their horns, as well as field protection in conservation areas and sanctuaries.