Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis)


Family:                    Rhinocerotidae.

Status:                     Endangered.

Size:                        Height 5 to 6 ft, length 10-12 ft, weight 1,000 to 3,000 lbs.  

Diet:                        Herbivore.

Characteristics:        Solitary.

Area:                       Sub-Saharan Africa.

Offspring:                One calf every two to five years.

Predators:               Lions and hyenas occasionally prey on young rhinos.



·       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 and may have earned their name that way. The mud helps keep bugs off and keeps the rhinos cool in the hot African climate. 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. Luckily, they’re usually peaceful and timid animals unless threatened. 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. The horn is used mostly for digging up bulbs and plants for food. Unlike other rhinos, the black rhino has an upper lip that enables it to handily grasp food.


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 Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, Zambia and South Africa. They live on grassland bordered by forest, where there is access to water. The rhino has been hunted to near extinction, with populations declining extremely rapidly during the second half of the last century. During the late 1960s 70,000 were estimated in Africa; in 1981 the numbers had dropped to 10-15,000 and only twelve years later slightly more than 2,000 remained. The reason for the quick drop in numbers is mainly due to poachers, who kill the rhino to obtain the horn, which can net up to $24,000 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. Conservationists tried dehorning rhinos to save their lives from poachers, but the poachers killed the dehorned animals anyway, to make sure they didn’t track the same animal twice.


Black rhinos don’t have a particular mating season, although peaks occur at different times of the year in different areas. A male rhino shows his interest by brushing his horn over the ground and rushing back and forth, charging at bushes. Fighting may occur among males over one female. The pregnancy lasts 15 months and when her time comes, the mother hides away, to keep her baby safe from predators, in dense bush. The newborn weighs about 90 pounds and can walk ten minutes after birth. The baby is very dependent on its mother, nursing for two years and not becoming independent until two and a half years or more. The mother is fiercely protective of her young and will become irritated and aggressive if approached by male rhinos, lions, hyenas, or humans. Females usually only give birth every two to three 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. Black rhinos can live up to 50 years in captivity.