Rinoceronte negro (Sp), Spitzmaulnashorn (G), Rhinocéros noir (F), Swartrenoster (Af). Also called hook-lipped rhinoceros or browse rhinoceros.
DESCRIPTION Shoulder height 55-65 inches (140-165 cm). Weight 1,800-3,000 pounds (800-1,350 kg).
The black rhinoceros is a very large, heavily built animal with a concave back, a relatively short head, a narrow muzzle, small, rounded ears and a short tail. The upper lip protrudes slightly in the middle and has a prehensile tip. The skin is dark gray (not really black), and is usually covered with dirt or mud from dusting or wallowing. There are two horns, with the front horn normally longer than the rear horn. Females are similar to males and about the same size, but their horns are thinner, and often are longer.
BEHAVIOR Usually solitary except for mother and young. Active early morning and evening, also at night, rests during middle of day. Sedentary. Browses on leaves and twigs, occasionally eats grass. Drinks daily when water is available. Sense of smell is excellent, hearing is very good, eyesight is poor. Can run quite fast for a short distance and is surprisingly agile.
HABITAT Dry bush country, particularly thorn bush; also mountain forests in Kenya to 11,000 feet (3,350 m) elevation.
DISTRIBUTION Remnant populations exist in Cameroon, Kenya, Tanzania, Angola, Zambia, northern Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, the Okavango region of Botswana, South Africa, and Swaziland. Possibly a few survive in Ethiopia, Rwanda and Malawi.
REMARKS One must exercise care when in a black rhino area, for these animals tend to be ill-tempered and may charge for no apparent reason. To kill or wound one-even in self-defense-is a serious offense these days.
TAXONOMIC NOTES Seven subspecies are listed, one of which (bicornis) is extinct. We do not separate them.
STATUS Listed on Appendix I of CITES (1975), as endangered by the USF&WS (1980) and critically endangered by the IUCN. Despite being protected by law in all countries where it occurs, the black rhino has been nearly exterminated over most of its former range from commercial poaching for its horns. Rhinoceros horn is in great demand in the Yemen Arab Republic for traditional dagger handles, and in eastern Asia where it is considered to have aphrodisiacal and medicinal properties.