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Diceros bicornis

During the last century, the Black Rhino has suffered the most drastic decline in total numbers of all rhino species. Between 1970 and 1992, the population of this species decreased 96%. In 1970, it was estimated that there were approximately 65,000 Black Rhinos in Africa but by 1992-93, there were only 2,300 surviving in the wild. However, since 1996, the intense anti-poaching efforts have had encouraging results. Numbers have been recovering and are now back up to about 3,100 and still increasing. Nevertheless, the poaching threat remains great and there is no cause for complacency.

Common Names

  • Black Rhinoceros: Not black at all, the Black Rhino probably derives its name as a distinction from the White Rhino (itself a misnomer) and/or from the dark-colored local soil covering its skin from wallowing.
  • Prehensile-Lipped Rhinoceros: The upper lip of the Black Rhino who is a browser is adapted for feeding from trees and shrubs and is the best distinguishing characteristic.
  • Hook-Lipped Rhinoceros: also referring to the prehensile lip.

Scientific Name and Origin

  • Diceros bicornis
  • Diceros: from the Greek di, meaning "two" and ceros, meaning "horn"
  • bicornis: from the Latin bi, meaning "two" and cornis, meaning "horn"

Current Black Rhino Numbers and Distribution

There are currently approximately 3,100 Black Rhinos surviving.

Click for large Black Rhino distribution map

Distribution table by country

Black Rhino distribution map


Physical Characteristics


  • Weight: 1,750 - 3,000 lbs (800 - 1,350 kg)
  • Height: 4.5 - 5.5 ft (1.4 - 1.7 m) tall at shoulder
  • Length: 10- 12.5 ft (3.0-3.8m) length of head and body


  • There are two horns. The front, larger (anterior) measures 1 ft 8 in - 4 ft 4 in (0.5 - 1.3 m) long. The rear (posterior) horn is smaller and measures 1-22 in (2 to 55 cm) long.

Other Features

  • Relatively narrow snout with a prehensile lip

Natural History


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