Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis)

Black Rhinoceros, downloaded 10/8/09

Habitat and Location
Black Rhino Populations, downloaded 10/5/09

The small, remaining populations of black rhinos can be found in sub-Saharan Africa. There are fewer than 3,000 of these rhinos that live in small pockets in southern African countries such as Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and Kenya. To support their herbivorous diet, black rhinos require massive amounts of foliage. In order to have access to sufficient sustenance, rhinos have adapted to live in a variety of ecological environments. Some subspecies of the black rhino live in dry, desert or savannah habitats, while others make their home in dense bush country or shrub-lands. Rhinos are also known to inhabit forested areas and open grasslands. Generally, rhinos live within 10 or 15 miles of a major water source.

The black rhino is one of the world's largest herbivores. It stands roughly five feet tall at the shoulder, although it can grow larger, and measures between 10 and 12 feet in length. Black rhinos often weigh upwards of a ton, but are able to gallop up to 30 miles per hour over short distances. Rhinos have thick, tough skin that deters predators, and have occasionally been known to fend off attackers with their horns. Wild rhinos are known for their ornery, aggressive nature, and damage their own populations through fatal in-fighting. Rhinos are generally solitary creatures, although newborn rhinos will stay with their mothers for up to two years after birth.

Rhinos eat over 200 different species of plants. They are especially fond of smallish, woody plants such as acacias and euphorbias, but the rhino's diet not limited to these. Depending on the season, rhinos tend to pick off certain parts of the plant, such as the stem and leaves, and leave the rest. When it is available, rhinos will use water to drink and bathe daily, although they can go a few days without water.

Endangerment and Conservation Information
Recent estimates indicate that wild black rhino populations in Africa have dropped below 3,000, making it a critically endangered species. Unlike many endangered species, rhinos do not suffer from loss of habitat. Although they need a large environment, rhinos are more the victim of poaching. For over a thousand years, rhino horns have been used in mystic medicine. The oil boom in the 1970s increased the demand for rhino horns exponentially, as the horns were used as status symbols in Arab nations. This, combined with political instability in south African nations, led to a 96% decrease in black rhinoceros populations between 1970 and 1992.
Black Rhino on the African coast, downloaded 10/10/09

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 was designed to protect species at risk of extinction. The Act classifies species' different levels of endangerment, identifies the root causes of the population risk, and seeks to remedy these problems. Key features of the Act include an automatic ban on possession and trade of endangered animals or their parts, and the ability to set aside land for the conservation of a specific species. Essentially, the Endangered Species Act seeks to remedy the destruction of organism populations as a result of human negligence. This negligence can be in the form of the specific victimization of a species, or simply general indifference to an organism's plight.
Many American companies take issue with the difficult regulations related to the protection of endagnered species, but overall, the Act has been popular and successful in helping many species.

Despite the many obstacles to rhino conservatrion, some progress has been made. The trade of rhino horns is now illegal, which has helped to decrease poaching, although a black market still thrives. Rhinos have been allowed to live in African parks, often originally intended for elephants. Unfortunately, poachers intent on killing rhinos for their horns often break into the parks to hunt. More recently, rhinos in conservation areas have been accompanied by armed guard when they go to graze. Sometimes even this does not do the trick, as poachers kill the guards in order to get to the rhinos. Desperate conservationists have tried tranquilizing rhinos and removing their horns to deter poachers from killing them.

Works Cited
  • The black rhino: An endangered species. (2009, September 20). Bagheera. Retrieved October 13, 2009, from‌inthewild/‌van_anim_rhino.htm
  • Black rhinoceros. (n.d.). World Wildlife Foundation. Retrieved October 13, 2009, from‌what_we_do/‌endangered_species/‌rhinoceros/‌african_rhinos/‌black_rhinoceros/
  • Black rhinoceros. (2008). Honolulu Zoo. Retrieved October 13, 2009, from‌black_rhinoceros.htm
  • Spilsbury, R. (2004). Animals Under Threat: Black Rhino. Chicago: Heinemann Library.

The End, downloaded 10/13/09