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Eastern black rhinoceros

Scientific name: Diceros bicornis michaeli

CLASS: Mammalia
ORDER: Perissodactyla
FAMILY: Rhinocerotidae

STATISTICS: Weight:1700 to 3000 lbs; Height: 4.5 to 6 ft

The black rhino ranges in color from dark yellow-brown to dark gray, with dark gray as the most common. Skin color depends on the color of the soil where the rhino lives and how much it likes to wallow or roll in the mud. It has very thick skin to protect against thorns and other sharp objects in its habitat.

The black rhino’s upper lip is pointed and prehensile, which helps it with browsing. It also has two horns with the larger of the two horns averaging 19 to 20 inches. The tail is about 28 inches long.

The black rhino ranged throughout eastern and southern Africa and as far north as Sudan and Nigeria. However, due to the extensive poaching its range has decreased drastically.

The black rhino lives in the transitional area between the grassland and the forest in the thick thorn bush and acacia scrub, but it likes the open areas as well.

This solitary animal has a good sense of hearing and smell, which are used to make up for poor eyesight. Its large ears are able to rotate to detect a variety of sounds. It uses mud from mud holes to protect itself from the bugs and sun. The black rhino has two horns with the most prominent one used by males for battle and by females to protect young. The pointed upper lip is used to grab twigs and brush while grazing.

Rhinos are known for being extremely aggressive in the wild. Due to their poor eyesight they may charge if they sense a threat and have occasionally been seen charging boulders and trees.

Mating ranges for the black rhino depending on where it is located. The male and female form a pre-mating bond where they eat and sleep together. The females give birth every two to five years. One calf is born after a gestation period of between 492 and 552 days. The calf is weaned after two years and is fully independent at about 2.5 to3.5 years old. Males become sexually mature at seven to nine years of age and females become sexually mature at four to six years of age.

Prey: Humans
Predator: None

Classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN and listed on CITES Appendix 1.


  • The horn of the black rhino has been used for medicinal purposes in Asia and for weapons in Africa and the Middle East. Because of this, the black rhino was heavily poached almost to extinction.


  1. National Geographic. Black Rhino. August 2008.
  2. Nowak, Ronald M. Walker’s Mammals of the World. 5th ed. Vol 2. John Hopkins University Press. 1991.
  3. CITES. September 8, 2008.
  4. IUCN Redlist. September 8, 2008

Published: February 2009

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