Western Black Rhinoceros

Sallianne Roher

Discovery & Distribution

The Western Black Rhinoceros was formally named Diceros bicornis longipes as a subspecies of the Black Rhino (Diceros bicornos) in 1949 by Ludwig Zukowski. They were primarily found in southeastern Africa in countries such as Malawi, South Africa, Cameroon, Mozambique, Rwanda, and many others.
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Ecology & Biogeographical Data

The Western Black Rhino species once roamed the southern end of Africa, with numbers around 1 million. They were characterized by their defining hook-shaped upper lip, which they used to aid themselves in the eating of their favorite foods, twigs, small shrubs and bushes, fruits, and other herbs. They could grow up to 6 ft. in height and weigh around a whopping 3 tons. Also, the Black Rhino is an animal that primarily lives an individual life. The most well-recognized feature of the Rhino is their towering horns, that have been known to grow up to a whole 5 feet! The horns are used for battling among males, and protecting young among the females. Females will take care of their young until their young is around 3 years old.
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The Western Black Rhino was last seen in Cameroon in 2006, then was officially declared extinct in 2011. Although they used to be quite numerous, they suffered a devastating, dramatic decrease in numbers in the late 20th century and the beginning of the 21st, due to poaching.


The Black Rhino is quintessential example of the devastating effects of poaching. Almost 98% of Black Rhinos were killed between 1960-1995 by poaching, and the Western Black Rhino, whose numbers were already lowered by over hunting, was hit very hard.

Rhino Horns

So why do poachers target Rhinos anyway?? For hundreds, if not thousands of years, the priceless horns of a Rhino were treasured as luxurious, and were often used as weapons and knife-handles among the African people, and was a source of export income. However, in the later 1900s the Rhino horn was claimed to be a cure for anything, from cancer to a simple hangover. The poaching obviously was uncontrolled among the small African nations, and the beautiful horn of the Western Black Rhinos became its ultimate downfall…

Ecological Effects of the Extinction

Although rhino calves and some weaker individuals may have been hunted by large wild cats, the Rhino's only real predator was humans. However, they obviously still played an important in the African ecosystem. One important role the Western Black Rhino had was it's mutualistic symbiotic relationship with the Oxpecker. The Oxpecker would pick bugs and worms off of the Rhino, and hitch a ride around on it's massive back. Simultaneously, the Rhino will get cleaned of all those nasty bugs, and the Oxpecker will also whistle or hiss if it senses danger.
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Could We Have Outrun the Extinction?

I personally believe that there could've been more effort to slow and reverse the dying out of the Western Black Rhinoceros. The poaching of the Black Rhino for their horns was simply out of control. In the less economically developed countries of southern Africa, they simply didn't have the resources and population that could support an effort to put an end to the poaching problems. Perhaps if the rest of the world had invested more in the protection of the Western Black Rhino, it would still be wandering the great grasslands of southern Africa today. A greater step towards creating a safe, protected environment for the Rhino to thrive would've made a huge difference in the survival of this great species. Another thing that I think could've impacted the rate of killing of the Rhino would've been to invest time and effort to educate local individuals across southern Africa so they truly knew the beauty and fragility of this species, and could've taken a hand as well in the protection of the Western Black Rhino.

Works Cited

"Black Rhinoceroses, Black Rhinoceros Pictures, Black Rhinoceros Facts - National Geographic." National Geographic. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.

"How the Western Black Rhino Went Extinct." Scientific American Blog Network. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.

"Black Rhinoceros." Black Rhinoceros. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.

"Rhino Poachers Target Kent Wildlife Parks." Rhino Poachers Target Kent Wildlife Parks. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.