World Conservation and Wildlife Trust

Fighting to protect the World's Marine Life, Wildlife, Biodiversity and Population.

The Rhino


General information on the Rhino

The Black Rhino is one of two native rhino species to the African region. Three are native to the Asian region, but all are in the family rhinocerotidae. Three of the five are critically endangered- the Javan (the rarest of only 30-40 left in world), the Sumatran and the Black Rhino with no more than 2,700 left in the wild. The rhinoceros family are known for their size reaching up to one tonne at full growth despite having a herbivorous diet. They have thick protective skin ranging from 1.5 to 5cm thick formed from layers of collagen positioned in a lattice structure. They have a reasonably small brain (400-600g dependent on age) and are famous for their territorial horn ranging from 20cm of the Indian Rhino to a stunning 150cm of the White Rhino. All African species of Rhino have two horns unlike the Asian and Indian Rhinos, whom rely on just on horn as a sign of territorial strength. The species of African Rhino are not equipped with front teeth but have to be reliant on their powerful premolar and molar teeth to grind up plant matter as a source of vital nutrition. Despite having the ability to eat fibrous plant matter due to their strong hind gut being able to ferment this food, the rhino tends to prefer leafy material. The rhinoceros has acute hearing and sense of spell but poor eyesight, meaning exact precision is needed when it comes to territorial ground.

The Black Rhino is most numerous in Central-East parts of Africa such as Tanzania and Zambia. The distinction made between the White Rhino and the Black Rhino is the clear fact that the Black rhino appears to stand much shorter at 1.5-1.75 metres tall. There are 4 subspecies of Black Rhino situated in the South-Central, Central, Northern and Eastern regions of Africa. The South-Western subspecies of Black Rhino was officially declared extinct in 2006 by the I.U.C.N. Red List of Endangered Species. The Black Rhino is considered one of the largest in the rhino family, behind the White Rhino, reaching up to 1,800 kg in comparison to the massive 3,500 kg of a fully grown White Rhino. The Black Rhino has a specially shaped pointed mouth to pick up leaves and food, can live up to 60 years old and only having one calf every few years. 

Reasons for endangerment

The Black Rhino is classed as critically endangered by the International Union of Conservation for Nature (I.U.C.N.) due to poaching for their spectacular horns made up of keratin, the same substance as fingernails, to sell on the black market for traditional Chinese medicines. Rhino's are under severe threat and face extinction within the next 20 years, if we do not act. 

Article by R.H.N.