The black rhinoceros (scientific name: Diceros bicornis) is one of the two rhino species found in Africa. In the same way that the white rhino is not white, the black rhino is not actually black. Its skin is more of a grey colour. There are a number of theories as to why the black rhino is called ‘black’ but two of the most common are that the prehensile upper lip has a type of beak formation and this has been translated to ‘black’ and perhaps the more common theory is that is that the English called it black as it was opposite to white! The black rhino is also known as the hook-lipped rhino and include four subspecies:
The African black rhino is an herbivore grazer and is often found in the thick bush of the savannas. Far more shy, secretive, and aggressive than the white rhino, the black rhino can be more difficult to track and spot. They tend to wander smaller home ranges as long as there are woody plants and waterholes nearby. It is the smaller of the two African species and typically found in Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Malawi.
Black Rhino Population
Populations of black rhino have been decimated over recent years due to loss of habitat and rhino horn poaching. The keratin in rhino horn is sold on the black market and in order for poachers to take a rhino horn, the rhino is killed. The black rhino population was near the brink of extinction and its conservation status is still considered as critically-endangered on the IUCN Red List.
It is thought that as recently as 1970 there were as many as 65,000 black rhinos in the wild. The estimated population today is . While rhino conservation efforts like at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, rhino-safe national parks in southern Africa, and anti-poaching efforts have helped increase black rhino numbers, there is always more work to be done!
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