Scientific name: Diceros bicornis Classification: Critically Endangered
No.’s left in the wild: Less than 4100
Original habitat: Central-Western Africa, Southern-South Africa
Current habitat: Eastern, central, western and southern Africa.
The Black Rhinoceros is a herbivorous browser, which can grow up to 170cm (67in) at the shoulder, 3.6m (12ft) in length and weigh up to 1,400kg (3,100lb). It has two horns, which are made of keratin, the larger front horn typically being 50cm (20in) long. These horns are used for defense, intimidation, and digging up roots and breaking branches during feeding.
During the 1960’s it was estimated that there were in excess of 100,000 Black Rhinos across sub Saharan Africa. But following what can only be described as a massive cull for their prized horns for use in traditional Chinese medicines or as dagger handles in the Yemen, the numbers were reduced to a very small population now numbering between 2500 to 4100 animals.
Yemen recently agreed to stop the importation of rhino horn, while medicinally, tests on horn samples have shown that keratin possesses no medicinal benefits. By reducing demand, conservationists hope that the value of rhino horn will fall and that in turn, poachers will cease killing this magnificent animal.
Unfortunately, the high prices currently paid for Black Rhino horn encourages illegal trade, but protective measures such as the creation of reserves and the preservation of habitat affords hope for the few animals remaining.