Black rhinoceros are not black but grey. Although they are quite similar to their white counterparts, black rhinos are comparatively aggressive and have a characteristic pointed lip. Their population saw a sharp decline around the turn of the 20th century, from over 100,000 bottoming out to barely 2,300 (by 1993).
Increased protection and improved biological management have increased the overall population of black rhinos to around 5,000 by 2020. More than 98% of the black rhino’s historic range is now lost. Due to habitat degradation and fragmentation, 69% of their mitochondrial genetic variation has vanished.
After the West African black rhino was declared extinct in 2011, three subspecies survived. Poaching still looms as the greatest threat.
Feb 2023: Botswana’s Tourism Minister Philda Kereng announced that poaching of rhinos has significantly increased due to a higher demand for rhino horns in international markets, especially in Asia.
Jan 2023: Namibia Ministry of Environment expressed its concern about the poaching of rhinos considering the fact that they have recorded 87 rhinos poached in 2022. Conservationists are warning that poachers looking to supply rhino horns to Asian markets are turning their sights to Namibia’s commercial farms. Namibia has an estimated 800 white rhinos and 1,800 black rhinos.
Did you know?
- Four range states—South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, and Zimbabwe—are home to the vast majority (94%) of black rhinos.
- They are browsers, meaning they primarily consume plants and trees for food. They pluck leaves and fruit from the branches with their pointed upper lip as there are no front teeth.
- Were once believed to be mostly solitary; however scientists suggest it as a misconception.
- They are mud-wallowers, which is the reason they may appear black!
- Mom and baby stick together! It takes their calf until it is roughly three years old before it can live on its own.
- Males fight viciously, stabbing each other with their horns. They will also chase off animals and humans to scare them away.
- Critically Endangered species shouldn’t be trophy hunted, especially when facing ongoing and increasing threats and have extremely low population rate. No levels of hunting offtake can be deemed sustainable for such species. Yet, some countries are increasing their trophy hunting quotas for black rhinos.
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Terrestrial / Aquatic
Altricial / Precocial
Polygamous / Monogamous
Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic
Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal
Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd
Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore
Migratory: Yes / No
Domesticated: Yes / No
Dangerous: Yes / No