Black Rhino Facts

Alternative Name: Hook-lipped Rhinoceros

Latin Name: Diceros bicornis

Status: Endangered

Lifespan: 40 years

Both male and female adults average from 800 to 850 kg, with large adults reaching up to 1000 kg.

Black Rhinoceros are found in dry arid areas as well as savannah and woodland areas with sufficient shrubs and trees to hide in, in the heat of the day.

Black rhino are browsers, feeding off a wide variety of shrubs and trees. Toxic plants such as the Tamboti Spirostachys africana with its high latex content are also eaten, having no harmful effects on the animal.

The black rhino has a very prehensile upper lip that is used to pull off leaves, shoots and thin branches while feeding.

Breeding takes place at any time of the year. The female can conceive her first calf at 7 to 8 years of age. A bull will ascertain if a cow is in oestrus by taste-testing the females’ urine otherwise known as “flehmen”.
After a successful copulation, the female has a gestation period of 15 months and gives birth to a calf weighing in at about 40 kg.

The calf suckles off the mother for 12 – 13 months and is fully weaned at 14 months. When the cow is ready to give birth to her next calf, she then chases the older calf away to be on its own or temporarily join up with other adults or youngsters in the area. The calf is usually chased away at 2 to 4 years of age.

Black Rhinos do not defend territories but do have home ranges in variable size that they scent-mark in. The bull scent-marks by either spraying urine onto vegetation or by defecating in certain spots called middens. Middens, which vary in number, are large collections of dung left by one bull or a number of different adults over a period of time. The bull after dropping his dung scrapes it into the ground with his hind legs and then spreads the dung further by dragging his feet as he walks away from the midden. Dung stuck under the bulls’ feet helps to further spread his scent as his walks through the area.
The purpose of a midden is to possibly convey information to other adults in the area by the different smells left in the midden.

The black rhinoceros has very weak eyesight but to compensate for that it has a very keen sense of smell and good hearing.

Of the two species of rhino found in Africa, the black rhino is the far more aggressive species. There are however fewer incidents of black rhino injuring or killing people, owing to its much lower population.

The white rhino having a higher population results in more frequent encounters with humans and although not considered as dangerous, accidents have been recorded.

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