Species: Black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis)
Status: Critically Endangered (CR)
Interesting Fact: The black rhinoceros is actually grey!
The black rhinoceros is the most well known of the five living rhinoceros species, with its aggressive reputation and highly publicised international conservation drive. Both African rhinoceros species possess two horns, which are made from clumped fibres rather than bone. The black rhinoceros can be distinguished from the white rhinoceros by its pointed, prehensile upper lip, which it uses to feed on the leaves and twigs of a variety of woody plants and herbs. Foraging often occurs in the cool of dawn and dusk; they spend much of the rest of the day resting in the shade or wallowing in shallow water holes, coating their skin in mud to protect it from the harsh sun and to deter biting flies. They are mainly solitary creatures, occupying overlapping home ranges and are inquisitive and often aggressive towards humans and other animals. Rhinoceros have poor eyesight but a keen sense of smell and hearing.
The black rhinoceros has been hunted to the brink of extinction due to the demand for its horn, both for use in Chinese traditional medicine and for traditional dagger handles inYemen. It is estimated that between 1970 and 1992, around 96 percent of the black rhinoceros population was lost, and a recent update by the IUCN reported on the extinction of a subspecies, the western black rhinoceros. Most remaining black rhinoceros individuals are now conserved in heavily protected areas.
Find out more about the black rhinoceros with the International Rhino Foundation.
Becky Moran, ARKive Species Text Author