Black Rhinoceros

ZOO LOCATION: Encounter Africa


Lifespan: 30 - 50 years

Wild Diet: Small acacia trees, bushes, and succulent plants

Height & Weight: Up to 6 feet, 1,750-3,000 pounds

Population: 4,880 in 2010

SSP: yes

IUCN Status: Critically Endangered


Habitat/Range: Once common across southern Africa, black rhino populations have dropped 98% from 1960 to 2010. In 2010 surveys estimated 4,880 black rhinos remained in the wild, making them one of the most endangered mammals on the planet.

Characteristics: Black rhinos horns are made of keratin, the same material as your fingernails and hair. Their hook-like lips are used for browsing tree branches, unlike those of the white rhino, whose flat lips are used for grazing grasses. Rhinos are thought to have poor eyesight but have a great sense of smell and hearing. Black rhinos can run over 30 miles per hour when startled or threatened.

Behavior: Males are solitary. Females stay with calves.

Conservation: To poachers, black rhinos are walking targets, illegally killed for their horns. In traditional Chinese medicine, rhino horn was believed to cure everything from fever to cancer. Today, poaching continues because of the interest in purchasing horn as a symbol of wealth and well-being in China and Vietnam. As the price of rhino horn on the black market has surpassed the price of gold, poachers have become organized and are harder to stop. Poaching has now reached critical levels. From 2009 through 2012, nearly 1,300 black rhinos were killed. In 2012, 668 wild rhinos were killed, averaging almost two rhinos killed daily.

What Can You Do:

  • Don't buy items made of rhinoceros horn (Asian dagger handles, medicinal powders).
  • Consider a once-in-a-lifetime African safari, helping to make rhinos more valuable alive than dead.
  • Hold a fundraiser to support the conservation efforts of International Rhino Foundation and AFRSG.
  • Learn more at our African Elephants & Rhinos Conservation page
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