Black Rhino

Black Rhino

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:

  • Southern Central black rhino Diceros bicornis minor
  • Eastern black rhino Diceros bicornis michaeli
  • South Western black rhino Diceros bicornis bicornis
  • Western black rhino Diceros bicornis longipes (declared extinct in 2011)

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!

black rhino distribution

General black rhino facts:

Scientific name:
Diceros bicornis
Eastern black rhino:
Diceros bicornis michaeli
Southwestern black rhino:
Diceros bicornis bicornis
Southern central black rhino:
Diceros bicornis minor
Average weight:
800kg to 1,350kg
Height at shoulder:
1.4 to 1.7 meters (4.5 to 5.5 ft)
Length (head & body):
3 to 3.8 meters (10 to 12.5 ft)
Front horn length:
54cm to 134cm
Rear horn length:
2.5cm to 56cm
Between 30 and 40 years
Up to 50km per hour (28mph)
Social behaviour:
IUCN conservation status:
Critically Endangered


15 to 16 months
Birth intervals per calf:
2.5 to 4 years
Female sexual maturity:
4 to 7 years
Male sexual maturity:
7 to 10 years
Calves weaned:
1 year


Wild population:
Namibia, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe

help protect rhinos in their natural habitat



can help pay for

Essential food and medication for a rhino orphan



can help pay for

Community programmes that improve livelihoods



can help pay for

 Training of anti-poaching teams and tracking dogs


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