Black rhinoceros: find out what this animal is like, its physical characteristics, character, behavior, etc. African animal biodiversity is made up of a large number of...

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African animal biodiversity is made up of a large number of species, among which there are some significant representatives, such as rhinos. Of the five living species, the black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) is one of those which, despite its size and strength, has not escaped the terrible poaching to which it has long been subjected to tear off its horns. This rhinoceros has several subspecies, notwithstanding, there is still no general consensus to date on the number of subspecies, which tends to be very varied according to experts.

In PlanèteAnimal, we present this dossier on the species mentioned above so that you can learn about the details of their habits, habitat locations and current state of conservation. Read on and learn about the characteristics of the black rhinoceros.


  • Africa
  • Angola
  • Kenya
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Republic of South Africa
  • Tanzania
  • Zimbabwe

Black Rhino Characteristics

The color of the black rhino is gray, although it can also have yellow or dark brown tones. So why is it called the black rhinoceros? This name was probably invented to differentiate it from the white rhinoceros. The tones of this species are related to the type of soil in which they grow.

Still on the subject of the characteristics of the black rhino, with the exception of the ears, it is hairless, its skin is thick and folds can form on certain areas of its body. It has two keratin horns, the one at the front measures between 42 and 128 cm and the one further back is smaller, it can measure between 20 and 50 cm. However, keep in mind that there are exceptions, as some individuals may have three horns. The horns in females are generally thinner and longer than those of the male.

The black rhinoceros is much smaller than the white rhinoceros, its length can reach almost 4 meters, with a weight between 800 and 1500 kg. Regarding the height, it does not exceed 1.8 m and, in general, females tend to be smaller than males. The special feature of this species is the shape of its pointed upper lip, which differs from that of white rhinos.The head and ears are also smaller in the case of the black rhino.

Where does the white rhino live? - Habitat

The black rhino's primary habitat is savannas, scrublands and deserts, but it is distributed across a wide variety of ecosystems. Thus, its habitat ranges from desert areas like Namibia, to wooded areas with the presence of humidity. The largest populations are usually found in savannah habitats, which are characterized by nutrient-rich soils.

Although we have seen that the habitat of the black rhino consists mainly of savannahs and deserts, the black rhino can also be observed in tropical or subtropical type grasslands, and it is common to find it in areas where grasslands merge with African forests. A vital aspect for the species is the presence of water in its territory, so on average it does not stay more than 25 km from water bodies.

Habits of the black rhinoceros

The black rhinoceros generally lives alone. Females stay with their young and only mate to reproduce. They tend to move around to eat and drink water in the morning or evening, the rest of the day they are often more inactive, being rather sedentary. They have a habit of wallowing in mud on hot days to cool off. When threatened, they quickly run away.

They are territorial, so much so that males use their feces and urine marks to limit their area. In general, females do not fight each other, but if a male and a female who is not in heat meet, there may be a fight, although it does not escalate into a major confrontation. The opposite happens when two males meet, in which case they become more aggressive until the weaker one chooses to withdraw.

Rhinos have a rather weak sense of sight, unlike hearing and smell, the latter being the most developed. In this way, they use pheromones as a communication mechanism.

Black Rhino Feeding

This animal travels in search of food, but what does the black rhinoceros eat? Its diet consists of branches, leaves, woody shrubs, small trees, grass and even, depending on availability, some legumes. It has a predilection for plants of the Euphorbiaceae family or species of the genus Acacia and, in general, for woody plants.

It likes to travel in s alt marshes, thus including minerals in its diet. It is also common for it to eat the bark of certain trees. To feed, it relies on its pointed lip, with which it grasps the plant and then crushes it with its teeth.It also uses its fore body to reach for appetizing leaves or branches in order to pull them down and eat them.

Reproduction of the black rhinoceros

Before a female is fully receptive, a male can already smell her, so he moves to where she is. It takes about two weeks for the male to stand next to the female and court her, walking stiff-legged in front of her and brushing her horns on the ground. Until the female is fully ready, she will not accept the male and will be aggressive towards his mating attempts.

Black rhinos can breed at any time of the year, but, depending on the specific area they are in, certain seasons have higher breeding peaks. The gestation period lasts about 15 months and ends with the birth of a single baby, which is nursed until the age of 18 months and will stay with the mother for about 4 years.

The life expectancy of the black rhinoceros is on average 35 years in the wild, while it can reach 45 years in captivity.

Black rhino conservation status

The species belongs to the critically endangered category and is extinct in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda. It has been reintroduced to Botswana, Eswatini, Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia.

So, how many black rhinos are left? According to reports from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), at the end of 2018, the subspecies consisted of the following numbers of individuals:

  • South-central black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis minor): 2196 individuals.
  • Southwestern black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis bicornis): 2390 individuals.
  • Eastern black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis michaeli): 1044 individuals.

Why is the black rhinoceros in danger?

The main threat to this rhinoceros is massive hunting to satisfy the terrible demand for its horns, which are used for various purposes. Conservation measures include banning the marketing of rhinoceros and its products. On the other hand, the creation of sanctuaries and protected areas has also been an important action to protect the species.

Black Rhinoceros pictures

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