Black Rhino

By: Tre Tate

Background Information

Common Name: Black Rhino

Scientific Name: Diceros bicornis

Height: 5.2 feet

Weight: 1,760- 3,080 pounds

Location: Namibia, Coastal East Africa

Habitats: Desert, Grasslands

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How does it interact with other organisms in its ecosystem(what is its specific niche)??

The black rhino eats leafy plants as well as branches, thorny wood bushes and fruit. Rhino skin harbors many external parasites, which are eaten by tick birds and egrets that live with the rhino. Young are preyed by hyenas. These solitary animals are more nocturnal than diurnal. Females are not territorial; their ranges vary according to food supply. Males are more aggressive in defending turf, but will tolerate properly submissive male intruders.

Food Web and Trophic Level Diagram

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Why is the Black Rhino Endangered?

A big threat for Black rhinos is humans and illegal trade. Black rhinos have two horns, and occasionally a third small posterior horn. The front horn is longer than the rear which makes them targets for the illegal trade in rhino horn. Political instability and wars have greatly hampered rhino conservation work in Africa, notably in Angola and Sudan. This situation has exacerbated threats such as trade in rhino horn, and increased poaching due to poverty.


Today, black rhinos remain Critically Endangered because of rising demand for rhino horn, which has driven poaching to record levels. A recent increase in poaching in South Africa threatens to erase our conservation success. The increase is driven by a growing demand from some Asian consumers, particularly in Vietnam, for folk remedies containing rhino horn. A total of 333 rhinos were killed in South Africa in 2010 – almost one a day.

How did it become Endangered ? How did the carrying capacity of its environment change? How many are there compared to previous numbers? Habitat Fragmentation? Pollution? (Graphs please)

Between 1970 and 1992, 96 percent of Africa's remaining black rhinos were killed. Black Rhino carrying capacity is related to rainfall, soil nutrient status, fire histories, levels of grass interference, extent of frost and densities of other large browsers. To maintain rapid population growth rates and prevent potential habitat damage if the population overshoots carrying capacity, populations of black rhinos should be managed at densities below long term ecological carrying capacity. Large-scale poaching of the now critically endangered black rhino resulted in a dramatic 96% decline from 65,000 individuals in 1970 to just 2,300 in 1993. Thanks to the persistent efforts of conservation programs across Africa black rhino numbers have risen since the early 1990s to a current population of 5,055.
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What is the future prognosis?

Black rhinos will be extinct if more humans kill the rhinos and illegal trade is not stopped but organizations like the AWF are helping stop these threats to black rhinos by building sanctuaries for the rhinos to live unharmed which would increase the number of black rhinos

How can humans help?

Humans can help by engaging the public, give rhinos a sanctuary, recruit wildlife scouts, and work with legal system.


AWF launched a campaign with WildAid in 2012 featuring former NBA star Yao Ming and targeting Chinese audiences to bring attention to the atrocities of rhino poaching and dispel myths about rhino horn. You can also help spread the word.


AWF constructed Nguila Rhino Sanctuary in Tsavo East National Park in Kenya. AWF provided the sanctuary with camera traps, which once caught potential poachers on camera, to monitor rhinos. At Nguila, rhinos have a protected, fenced-in space to live in.


AWF recruits, trains, and equips wildlife scouts who protect the rhino from poachers. Wildlife scouts are familiar with landscapes, wildlife, and community members.


AWF hosted a Rhino Summit—an emergency response to the rhino-poaching crisis—to create a comprehensive plan to protect rhinos. The plan called for increasing surveillance on the ground, strengthening law enforcement, curbing demand and trade, and reaching out to influence policy makers and legal entities.