Private Bag 14, Maun, Botswana
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The difference between black and white rhinos has nothing to do with color; the white rhino (Ceratotherium simum) is the larger square-lipped grazer and the more social of the two species. The black rhino (Diceros bicornis) has a hooked lip for browsing and is more aggressive. It is estimated that there were several million white and black rhinos in Africa at the beginning of the 19th century. Black rhino were historically far more numerous and widely distributed in Africa than white rhino. In fact when the population of southern white rhino had been reduced to below 100 during the 1970’s it was estimated that there were still a minimum of 65,000 black rhinos in Africa. From then on, whilst the white rhino were slowly recovering under intense conservation management in South Africa, the black rhinos were targeted by poachers and were mercilessly slaughtered for their horns. Between 1970 and 1992 black rhino numbers suffered a reduction of 96%.


Conservation status: critically endangered

The rhinoceros is a large herbivorous mammal, whose distinguishing feature is their large size and the horn or horns that grows from the top of their head. Some species, such as the black rhino and white rhino, have two horns, whiles others, such as the greater one-horned rhinoceros and the Javan rhino, have only one. Rhino calves are born without horns.

Rhinos vary in size depending on the species. The largest is the white rhino, which weighs between 4,000 and 6,000 pounds. Their skin is thick and tough but also quite sensitive to sunburn and insect bites. They often cover themselves in mud for protection. Rhinos have poor eyesight but excellent sense of smell and hearing. Female rhinos gestate their young for about 15 to 16 months and give birth to a calf every two to three years. Male rhinos tend to be solitary animals, while females and young rhinos are more social, depending on the species. In the wild they live for approximately 35 years.

A group of rhinos is called a "crash." Rhinos seem like slow, lumbering beasts, but can actually run between 30 to 40 mph. Small birds called oxpeckers have a symbiotic relationship with the rhinos. They remove ticks from the rhino's skin, and also make a lot of noise when they perceive a threat, alerting the rhino to danger. The Swahili name for these birds is "askari wa kifaru" (rhino guard). They are territorial animals leaving piles of dung, which smell unique to each rhino, as a message to other rhinos. The rhino's horn is made of keratin, like human fingernails.


Critically Endangered Black Rhino Translocation
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