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Black Rhinoceros - A Critically Endangered Species

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Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis), picture taken at Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania

Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis), picture taken at Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania

Scientific Classification:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Infraclass: Eutheria

Order: Perissodactyla

Family: Rhinocerotidae

Genus: Diceros

Species: Diceros bicornis

The Black Rhinoceros is one of the most critically endangered species in the world with a population of just 4,848 individuals. The population as of February 2013 is estimated to be 4,880.

A subspecies of this black rhinoceros, the western black rhinoceros was declared extinct in 2011 by the IUCN.

Black Rhinos live in the tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannahs, deserts and shrub lands. They are native to Eastern and Central Africa including countries like Kenya, Tanzania, Cameroon, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Swaziland. They were reintroduced in Zambia and Botswana.

The scientific name for the Black Rhinoceros is Diceros bicornis. This species was first named by Carolus Linnaeus in 1758.


Abbreviations and explanation of terms used:

CITES - Convention of InternationalTrade in Endangered Species

WWFWorld Wildlife Fund

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IUCNInternational Union for Conservation of Nature

IRF - International Rhino Foundation

BRREP - Black Rhinoceros Range Expansion Project

AREAS - Asian Rhino and Elephant Action Strategy

FSC - Forest Stewardship Council


Keratin - A material with which our hair and finger nails are made of

TRAFFIC - Wildlife trade monitoring network

RhoDIS - Rhino DNA Index System

Herbivores - Any animal that feeds chiefly on grass and other plants


Characteristics and behaviour:

  • The black rhinos are dark brown or dark grey in colour and are 132 cm to 180 cm tall and 2.8 to 3.8 m in length. Their tails are about 60 cm in length.
  • An adult black rhinoceros weighs between 800 to 1,400 kg. The female rhinoceros are smaller than the male rhinoceros. Some black rhinoceros can be large and weigh between <