Common Name: rhino
Genus species: Diceros (two horns) bicornis (two horn)
Size: 1.5 to 1.9 m (5-6 ft.) tall at shoulder; 3.1 to 3.7 m long (10-12
Weight: 454 to 1362 kg (1,000-3,000 lb.), females are smaller
Description: large stocky animal, naturally gray in color but will often take on the color of the
local soil; two facial horns and a prehensile lip.
Life span: 25 to 40 years
Sexual maturity: males 7 to 9 years, females 4 to 6 years
Gestation: 15 months
Habitat: bushy plains, rugged hills, and scrub lands in isolated areas of central and southern
Diet: herbivore that browses on bushes, leaves, and seedlings
Status: listed by USFWS as endangered and protected by CITES
* 3rd largest land mammal (after elephant and white rhinoceros)
* Grey in color, large head, short neck, broad chest, thick skin, thick legs, strong muscles, 2
horns made of dense fibers may grow to 5 feet in length, good sense of smell, hooked prehensile
upper lip, extremely near-sighted
* Average adult
o height: over 5 feet
o weight: 3000 pounds
o height: 2 feet
o weight: 75-100 pounds
* Approximate life span in captivity: 40 years
* Vegetarian: a browser feeding primarily on leaves twigs, bushes, sometimes grass
* At SCZ: carrot, onion, alfalfa, 16% ADF grain
* Sleep during the hottest hours of the day, otherwise browsing for food
* Usually solitary, sometimes small group of females led by a male
* Run on their toes up to 35 mph
o sexual maturity: male 7-9 years, female 4-6 years
o breeding season: throughout the year with peaks in the spring and fall
o single births
o gestation 16-19 months
o newborn weaned at 2 years
* Habitat: brush and scattered open woodlands with mud wallows
* Distribution: in limited areas of eastern and southern Africa
* Numbers estimated 2500 in the wild (65,000 just 20 years ago), 100 in SSP (1993)
* Status: Endangered, CITES Appendix I
o poaching: horn, for dagger handles and medicinal purposes
o habitat destruction
The black rhino is the most common representative of the family Rhinoceroditae in the
African continent. Its body is solid and massive, even though its structure is smaller than that of
the white rhino; its head and trunk measures 3 to 3.70 m in length, and its tail 70 cm; its height at
the withers varies from 1.40 to 1.50 m, and its weight is about two tons or less. It has two horns,
the front one of which, thinner and more curved, is on average 50 cm long but can exceed 100
cm, whereas the hind horn is remarkably shorter, more massive, and upright; in rare cases the
presence of the biginning of the third horn has been noted. The head is relatively short in
comparison with the body, and the animal holds it much higher than the white rhino; the eyes are
very small, and the ears have a wide, round shape, unlike those of white rhinos, which are more
pointed. But the feature that distinguishes the two African rhinos is the different shape of the
snout, which is related to the different diets of the two species: wide an square in the
"Ceratotherium", narrower and triangular in the "Diceros", which, unlike the white rhino, has the
upper lip changed into a prehensile finger-like appen-dage, useful for tearing leaves and little
branches off shrubs. The color of the skin is gray tending to brownish, but the animal often takes
on the color of the mud in which It is very fond of rolling; the hide is hairless, except for thin
bristles on the borders of the ears and on the tail, and it is furrowed, especially on the sides, by
many wrinkles. Unlike the white rhino, the black one does not have any humps in the cervical
region, and the black profile has a slight concavity. Its legs are strong and squat.
The black rhino inhabits treed savannahs, thick scrub land with thorny shrubs, clearings,
bushy plains rich in vegetation, and also semiarid zones, but always with water or muddy pools in
the proximity. It avoids areas that are too humid, and it is not present in the tropical rain forest
belt. Despite its remarkable size, it ventures into mountain forests; in Kenya, for example, it's
easily climbs steep slopes and is to be found up to 2700 m in altitude. In the past, its area
distribution comprised the savannahs and the arid zones of Africa, extending from the Cape
Province in the extreme south of the continent, through Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia,
Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Zaire, Kenya, Uganda, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Sudan as far as
Chad and the Central African Republic; this rhino is also to be found in the western part of the
continent, in Namibia, Angola, Congo, Cameroon, and Nigeria. At present, the distribution of the
black rhino within this area is extremely fragmented and limited mainly to the zones protected as
reservations and national parks. In Zimbabwe, it is to be found in the Zambezi valley; quite large
groups also survive in the Luangwa Valley and in other zones of Zambia. In Kenya, it is found in
the Tsavo National Park, and in Tanzania it is still relatively common, whereas in Uganda, Sudan,
Ethiopia, Mozambique, Zaire, Ruanda, Malawi, Votswana, Chad and other countries of its
previous area of distributions this animal is very rare and on the point of extinction if not already
instinct, as in Nigeria.
Because of the prehensile prolongation of the upper lip, the black rhino can easily crop
small branches, and barks of euphorbia and acacia; n one day it can away numerous small trees so
to reach the top and eat the tend. Branches. Unlike the white rhino, it does not feed on herbaceo.
Plants, but it doesn't scorn fall fruits and roots, which is procure. By digging in the round with
hooves and with the help of horn. It usually searches for fo. In the early morning and in the
evening, but in the areas where many humans are found, is also has nocturnal habits. It never goes
far from water, as it needs to drink at least once a day; in particularly arid zones, however, it
drinks less frequently. It prefers stagnant waters in which it can take mud baths.
The black rhino is a rather social animal: adult males generally live in isolation, whereas
females may form small groups; it is easy to meet couples formed by a male and female or a
mother with her young. The size of their territories seems to vary from 15 to 36 square km. Social
communication is based principally on olfactory messages, as smell, as well as hearing, are the
most developed senses in this animal. The rhinos mark the ground at fixed points with sprays of
urine and deposit their excrement in heaps; they also rub their bodies against trees to leave their
According to the type of communication, they emit different sounds, as, for example,
snorts when menaced or a call used by the male to attract the female, or else shrill cries given out
by the females to call the young. The black rhino has the reputation of being a rather aggressive
pachyderm, and it quite often attacks people, vehicles, or any other object that might represent a
menace. There are also cases of fighting within the species, for example between adult males
during the reproductive period or in the case of a male straying into the territory of another male;
the females and the young, on the other hand, in most cases, are free to move about everywhere.
The aggressiveness of this animal can be explained in part by the weakness of its side, which
does not permit it to distinguish a man from a tree at 30 to 40 m, and this makes it throw itself
against any unknown smell or noise for fear of danger; usually, though, the black rhino gives up
the attack: galloping toward the intruder, it deviates from its course at the last moment and
continues running in another direction. The most violent and irascible specimens are those that
are wounded of that live in territories where humans disturb them; in fact, in the territory of the
Masai, who do not bother them, that are decidedly more peaceful. The rhinos have no enemies
among the predators, except the lion, which may sometimes kill young rhinos. They often live in
association with oxpeckers and cattle egrets; the latter feed on insects that the rhino raises in its
passage, whereas the others feed on parasites in its skin.
Reproduction does not seem to take place in particular periods of the year, and gestation
lasts from 16 to 18 months; only one off-spring is born at a time, and it suckles until it is 2 years
of age and reaches sexual maturity at 5 or 6 years of age. Unlike the white young rhino, which
precedes its mother, the little black rhino always follows its mother and often remains with her
for several years, even after the birth of the successive offspring. From one birth to another there
is a lapse of time of about 3 years.
The number of black rhinos has gone down enormously in the last few years; from
14,785 in 1980 to 4500 in 1986, despite the efforts of African governments and protectionists
organizations. No other species of large mammal has underage such a rapid decline during the
last 15 years. The causes of this decline are the deterioration of the habitat due to the ever
increasing number of human settlements and to poaching, encouraged by the great commercial
value of the rhino's's horns. They are illegally exported to many countries in Southeast Asia,
where they are used as the basic ingredient in many widely used medicines; their wholesale price
is about $500 per kg. Thanks to the serve controls of recent years, the trade with the Asiatic
markets has been greatly reduced; currently, about half the rhino horns end up in northern
Yemen: there they are used to produce finely worked hilts for daggers, which form part of the
traditional male costume. The importation of horns to Yemen was declared illegal in 1982 but
still continues because of insufficient controls.
The species "Diceros bicornis" is listed in Appendix I of the Washington Convention and
is protected legally in all the countries of its area of distribution. Many efforts have been made to
protect it, but its decline continues. It would be very important to... and the horn trade,
continuing with greater vigor the campaign of information, especially in Northern Yemen and
Southeast Asia, in order to make known the tragic situation of the black rhinos and to discourage
the use of its horn.
Distribution of rhinos
Range and numbers (1984 figures)
South Africa- 640
Central African Republic- 170
Parasites and Predtors
Black rhinos are partricularly vulnerable to "rhino sores", which are usually just behind
and below the shoulder, in the area which they find most difficult to scratch while rolling. The
sores are inflamed, often septic, patches of skin, as much as 12 cm in diameter, which are infested
with a small filariform worm. The five other species of this genus of worm are all parasites of
cattle: the intermediate host is a biting fly which breeds in dung. In visiting the communal dung-
heaps along their trails, the rhinoceroses pass the infection around the population: almost every
individual has sores caused by this worm.
Over 20 species of ticks have been found feeding on black rhinos, some of them specific
to the rhinoceros, and others impartial parasites on elephants as well. The ticks provide a regular
food-supply for oxpeckers, birds related to starlings. The ticks provide a regular food-supply for
oxpeckers, birds related to starlings. Even rhinoceros carries two or three of these grey-brown
birds, with their bright, packing industriously at the ticks on its skin. The birds not only remove
the parasites; they also cause the rhinos some discomfort, by sticking their sharp beaks into ears
and nostrils, and pecking at any open wounds or sores. However, they perform a service of
another kind by acting as an alarm system. Although they have become accustomed to cars in
game parks, in the same way as the rhinoceros themselves, in open hunting areas the oxpeckers
fly up with loud screeching calls when humans approach.
* Thick, layered skin protects animal from sharp grasses and thorns.
* Thick, padded soles on feet absorb shock and cushion legs.
* Prehensile upper lip helps in foraging and browsing.
* Large ears can rotate to pick p sounds from many directions.
* Large nose and excellent sense of smell help to detect predators.
* Horns used for defense and possibly display.
* Aggressive disposition discourages predators; tends to charge first and investigate later,
possibly because it is nearsighted.
1. A rhino's horn is not a true horn that is attached to the skull. It grows from the skin and is
made up of keratin fibers, the same material found in hair and nails.
2. Black rhinos have a prehensile lip that is used much like a finger to select and pick the
leaves and twigs they prefer.
3. Black rhinos travel alone except while breeding or raising offspring. Juveniles remain with
the mother until they are completely weaned just before a new baby is born.
Summary: Rhinos. Black rhinos. Their conservation.
The name "rhino" conjures up the image of a prehistoric beast, a huge creature with skin
of armor. This image is not surprising, since these intelligent and affectionate creatures have
inhabited the Earth for 60 million years. An extinct species of rhino that lived in Mongolia,
(Baluchitherium grangeri), was the largest land mammal of all time. This hornless rhinoceros
stood 18 feet (five and one-half meters) at the shoulder, was 27 feet (eight meters) long, and
probably weighed 25 tons (23 metric tons), four times as much as today's African bull elephant.
This species probably died out because of climate change.
The rhino may be the source of the belief in unicorns, legendary animals whose horn was
said to be a panacea for all types of ailments. In 1298, the Venetian explorer Marco Polo
described Sumatran rhinos as unicorns saying:
There are wild elephants in the country, and numerous unicorns, which are very nearly as
big. They have hair like that of a buffalo, feet like those of an elephant, and a horn in the middle
of the forehead, which is black and very thick.
Today, all five species of rhinos are perilously close to extinction. The rate of their
decline is truly astounding: in the decade of the 1970s alone, half the world's rhino population
disappeared. Today, less than 15 per cent of the 1970 population remains, an estimated 10,000 to
The Javan and Sumatran rhinos are near extinction. Indian rhinos may be coming back
from the brink. Of the two African species, the white rhino has rebounded from near extinction.
(Contrary to its name, the white rhino is not really white. Its name is a mistaken translation of the
Dutch word "wijde," which means "wide" and refers to the rhino's broad, square lips.)
The black rhino has not fared so well. As recently as 1970, an estimated 65,000 black
rhinos could be found throughout sub-Saharan Africa. But in eastern Africa, 90 percent of them
were killed in the 1970s. Now there are fewer than 2,500 left, in pockets in Zimbabwe, South
Africa, Kenya, Namibia, and Tanzania.
The black rhino grows to 14 feet (four meters) long, stands over 4.5 feet (1 meter) at the
shoulder, and weighs up to 3,900 pounds (1770 kg). It is recognizable by its long, pointed,
prehensile upper lip and two prominent horns, the longest of which averages 20 inches (50 cm).
The horn is made up of millions of tightly compacted hairlike fibers.
The black rhino is a formidable herbivore. It inhabits bush country with thick cover,
grasslands, or open forest, where it browses on a wide variety of plants.
Causes of Endangerment
Unlike most large mammals, habitat loss has not been a significant factor in the decline
of rhinos. Rather, poaching for their horn has decimated rhino populations.
As early as the 5th century B.C., rhino horn was believed capable of rendering some
poisons harmless. In Borneo, people used to hang a rhino's tail in a room where a woman was
giving birth, believing it would ease labor pains. Asians used rhino horn in traditional medicines
for a thousand years without threatening the species' survival.
It was not until the 1970s that rhinos declined dramatically, due to a surprising cause: the
soaring price of oil. Young men in the Arab country of Yemen covet rhino horn for elaborately-
carved dagger handles, symbols of wealth and status in that country. Until the 1970s, few men
could afford these prized dagger handles. But Yemen and other Middle Eastern countries are
rich in oil, and prices for this "black gold" climbed dramatically in that decade due to a
worldwide oil shortage. The result was a seven-fold increase in the per capita income in Yemen, a
rise in wealth that made rhino horn dagger handles within the reach of almost everyone. This
small country, with a population of 6 million at the time, suddenly became the world's largest
importer of rhino horn.
The value of rhino horn made it enormously profitable to poach rhinos and sell them on
the black market. For example, in 1990, the two horns from a single black rhino brought as much
as $50,000. Just like poaching for elephant ivory, poaching for rhino horn is simply too
profitable for many subsistence farmers and herders to resist.
All trade in rhino horn is prohibited, since rhinos are protected under Appendix I of CITES. The
ban on trade in rhino horns has not been very successful, however. A thriving black market in
rhino horn has continued. In 1993, the United States threatened to ban legal imports of wildlife
from China, which has a large wildlife trade with the United States, if China did not start taking
measures to stop illegal wildlife trade. In response, China made it illegal to sell, buy, trade, or
transport rhino horns and tiger bones. Illegal stockpiles of rhino horns and tiger bones remain,
Protected Areas and Armed Guards
Rhinos live in some of the same African parks and reserves that pprovide habitat for elephants
Protection of elepnant habitat was not enough. Rhinos were killed in protected areas because
governments could not afford to patrol the parks to stop poachers. Now, there are so few left that
many rhinos are literally kept under armed guard. They forage during the day, accompanied by
guards with rifles, and they are locked up at night under armed guard. Rhino horn is so valuable
though, that poachers have killed guards to get at the rhino.
The rhino's plight has become so desperate that in some places conservation officials tranquilize
rhinos and saw off their horns so poachers will have no cause to kill them. It is not known
whether removing the horn impairs the rhino's ability to survive or reproduce. It is known,
however, that in some areas, a mother rhino uses her horn to defend her young from attacks by
cats and hyenas.