Overview

The South-central Black Rhinoceros, a subspecies of the Black Rhinoceros, is a large, powerful animal known for its iconic horns and armored skin. This species has an impressive presence in African wildlife, characterized by their gray-black skin and aggressive demeanor. Once plentiful throughout various parts of Africa, this subspecies’ population has drastically decreased due to excessive hunting and habitat destruction.

 

The South-central Black Rhino is a herbivorous browser that feeds on the leaves, twigs, and branches of various vegetation types. Notably, their prehensile lip is a distinct characteristic, specialized for gripping and feeding on plants. This majestic animal plays a vital role in maintaining the ecological balance in its habitat, contributing significantly to the diversity and resilience of plant life.

 

Despite conservation efforts, the South-central Black Rhino remains under threat, chiefly due to poaching for their valuable horns. These creatures are essential to Africa’s ecological, cultural, and economic fabric, and their dwindling numbers represent a significant loss of global biodiversity and heritage.

Taxonomy

Kingdom
Phylum
Class
Genus
Type

Physical Description:

The South-central Black Rhinoceros is a massive, robust creature with a barrel-shaped body and thick, protective skin that appears gray-black. They are known for their two iconic horns, the foremost of which is generally longer, reaching lengths up to 59 inches (150 cm). Behind this is a shorter second horn. The body is heavily built, with a large head, short neck, and substantial legs.

This rhino has a distinct, pointed, prehensile upper lip, which is quite different from the square lip of its counterpart, the White Rhino. This upper lip allows it to pluck leaves and twigs from trees and shrubs. Their skin has a naturally rough texture with deep folds at the leg joints, giving them an armor-plated appearance. The ears are pointed and mobile, enabling them to pick up sounds from different directions. They have poor eyesight but compensate with excellent hearing and sense of smell.

Lifespan: Wild: ~35 years || Captivity: ~50 years

Weight: Male: 2425-2980 lbs (1100 to 1350 kg) || Female: 1760-2425 lbs (800 to 1100 kg)

Length: Male & Female: 9.8-12.3 feet (300 to 375 cm)

Height: Male & Female: 55-71 inches (140 to 180 cm)

Top Speed: ~34 mph (54 km/h)

Characteristic:

Native Habitat:

Historically, the South-central Black Rhino was found across the south-central regions of Africa, inhabiting areas of Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. They prefer habitats with dense, woody vegetation, where they can obtain food and find refuge from predators and heat. They are often found in savannahs, bushlands, and woodland areas.

The terrain for this species can range from flat plains to mountainous landscapes. Despite their size, Black Rhinos are surprisingly agile and can navigate rocky terrain and steep slopes. They also often inhabit areas near water sources requiring frequent drinking and wallowing sessions.

Climate Zones:
Biogeographical Realms:
Continents:
Diet:

Diet & Feeding Habits:

As a browser, the South-central Black Rhinoceros feeds primarily on the leaves, twigs, and branches of shrubs and trees. Their diets can include over 200 species of plants, demonstrating their adaptability to varied food sources. Their pointed upper lip is particularly adapted to select, grasp and draw browse into their mouths.

Rhinos do not have a specific feeding time; they feed day and night, often taking a break during the hottest part of the day. They need to consume a significant amount of food due to their large body size, and they tend to select the most nutritious plants during the dry season when food is scarce. Also, they depend on water and need to drink every 2-3 days when water is available, but they can survive 4-5 days without water in drought conditions.

Mating Behavior:

Mating Description:

The South-central Black Rhinoceros has no specific breeding season, and mating can occur yearly. Males become sexually mature at around 7 to 10 years, while females mature at 5 to 7. Males compete fiercely for the opportunity to mate with receptive females. These fights can be brutal and sometimes fatal, involving charges and horn thrusts.

Once a male wins the right to mate, courtship involves a lot of following around and some persuasion. After mating, the male will stay with the female, guarding her from other potential suitors. After a gestation period of about 15-16 months, the female gives birth to a single calf, although twins are extremely rare.

Reproduction Season:

Year-round
Birth Type:

Pregnancy Duration:

~456 Days

Female Name:

Cow

Male Name:

Bull

Baby Name:

Calf

Social Structure Description:

Black Rhinos predominantly lead solitary lives, with the principal social bond typically formed between a mother and her calf. Male rhinos exhibit pronounced territorial behavior, marking their domains with dung piles and urine sprays. Interestingly, their home ranges tend to overlap with those of female rhinos, indicating the interconnection of their social structures.

Even with their typically solitary habits, Black Rhinos exhibit occasional social tendencies. Loose associations are formed, particularly near shared resources such as water holes. This aspect of their behavior highlights their adaptability and the complexity of their social structures.

Groups:

School
Conservation Status:
Population Trend:

Population:

Wild: ~1200 || Captivity: Unknown

Population:

The South-central Black Rhino has seen a dramatic population decline in the last century, largely attributed to rampant poaching for their coveted horns, coveted for their use in traditional Asian medicine and ornamental display. Habitat loss is another major factor, with human activities like farming, deforestation, and settlement construction encroaching upon their natural environments.

Nevertheless, the tide has begun to shift for these creatures, thanks to recent conservation initiatives. Rigorous protection measures and dedicated breeding programs have paved the way for a modest population increase. Despite these improvements, securing their future remains an ongoing endeavor.

Population Threats:

The South-central Black Rhino faces a major challenge due to persistent poaching. Despite comprehensive international trade prohibitions, the high demand for rhino horn in various Asian markets continues to spur illegal hunting activities. Additionally, habitat degradation due to human expansion poses a significant concern. As lands are repurposed for agricultural and infrastructural needs, rhino populations face increasing fragmentation and isolation.

On top of these threats, disease and competition from livestock for essential resources like food and water add to the growing list of hazards for these rhinos. Moreover, climate change, with its unpredictable weather patterns and shifts in habitat conditions, poses a substantial, escalating threat to the survival of this species.

Conservation Efforts:

Conservation initiatives for the South-central Black Rhino have taken various forms, from enforcing strict anti-poaching regulations to managing habitats and monitoring population trends. Organizations like the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the International Rhino Foundation, and numerous governmental agencies have made considerable strides in safeguarding these animals. Establishing anti-poaching squads, intricate surveillance systems, and active community engagement programs across various African nations exemplifies these efforts.

Furthermore, numerous initiatives to boost population numbers have been implemented. Among these are breeding programs in controlled environments and relocating individual rhinos to habitats that are safer and better suited to their needs. These multi-faceted efforts aim to ensure the survival and recovery of this critically endangered species.

Additional Resources:

Fun Facts

  • Black Rhinos can run up to 34 mph (54 km/h) despite their size.
  • Black Rhinos have poor eyesight but an excellent sense of smell and hearing.
  • Their two horns are made of keratin, the same type of protein that makes up hair and nails in humans.
  • Black Rhinos are known for their aggressive nature and will charge when they sense a threat.
  • Their pointed, prehensile lips allow them to feed on trees and shrubs, unlike their White Rhino counterparts, who have a flat lips for grazing.
  • Black Rhinos love to wallow in mud to cool off and keep parasites at bay.
  • Despite their solitary nature, they occasionally form groups known as “crashes.”
  • A female Black Rhino stays pregnant for 15 to 16 months – one of the longest gestation periods for a mammal.
  • Black Rhinos have a “toilet” area away from their feeding and sleeping zones to avoid scenting predators.
  • A Black Rhino’s lifespan can reach up to 45 years in captivity, outliving its average wild lifespan of 35 years.