© Richard Du Toit/Minden Pictures
From dry deserts to lush savannas to succulent valleys, black rhinos are spread across eastern and central Africa – largely in the countries of Kenya, Tanzania, Cameroon, South Africa, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. About 3,500 black rhinoceroses exist in the wild, and the IUCN classifies this species as Critically Endangered.
Did you know? The black rhinos – which are in fact gray – are differentiated from their close relative, the white rhino (which is also gray) by their prehensile lips. White rhinos have square lips. The black rhino uses its lips for forage leaves, twigs and plants.
The black rhinoceros is a solitary animal, though their home territories often overlap. Females give birth to a calf every two to four years and the calf will stay with its mother until the next calf is born. Often foraging for food in the mornings, black rhinos will spend the hot, dry days under the cover of shade trees or wallowing in water holes to cool their skin.
A Minor Success?
The black rhino population could be considered a minor success. For more than 40 years, the populations had been declining due to hunting – hitting an all-time low of approximately 2,400 in 1995.
However, since then the number has slowly increased. This is particularly true in the countries that have strict protection and enforcement programs, such as South Africa and Namibia.
Still, black rhinos face numerous threats. Poachers target them for the international rhino horn trade; the horns are used in traditional Chinese medicine and are carved for the handles of ceremonial daggers in the Middle East. Although the numbers are slowly increasing, further protection and enforcement measures are needed to protect these curious animals.