Black Rhino

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The Black Rhinoceros: Is There Hope, Again?

The black rhinoceros was pushed to the brink of extinction by the international trade in rhino horn in the 1970s-1990s. Although conservation and anti-poaching efforts over the last two decades have increased black rhinoceros numbers, the extinction threat to the species is still very real – with this charismatic species remaining Critically Endangered.

How Nikela Helps

Black and white rhino are being poached and killed indiscriminately, at the rate of three per day!

It doesn’t take a scientist to figure out that the threat of extinction is very real.

Nikela helps protect rhino in two ways:

1) On the ground: Supporting Peter and his team of skilled anti-poaching rangers to stay ahead of the hi tech and syndicate driven poachers.

2) Awareness campaigns: Sharing information across the social networks to increase global awareness and invite anyone anywhere who cares to get involved, to get involved, like World Rhino Month.

Facts about the black rhinoceros

Taxonomy

There are three living subspecies of black rhinoceros currently recognised. These are: the south-western, eastern and south-central black rhinoceros. Another sub-species, the western black rhino became extinct in 2011 – according to the IUCN.

Distribution

Black rhinos are mainly found in reserves in countries including: South Africa, Tanzania and Namibia. They are found in fragmented populations in a variety of habitats, often where the vegetation is dense and woody.

Appearance

Despite its name, the black rhinoceros isn’t black. It is actually grey in colour. It can be distinguished by the other grey-coloured African rhino species, the white rhinoceros, by its upper lip shape. The black rhino has a pointed lip, while the white rhino’s lip is squarer. Due to its distinctive lip shape, the black rhino is also known as the hook-lipped rhinoceros. The black species is also smaller than the white rhinoceros.

Diet

As a browser, the black rhino eats a range of trees, shrubs and bushes. The black rhino uses its pointy, prehensile lip to grab twigs, leaves and branches. The species can survive up to five days without water in times of drought.

Behaviour and social groups

Black rhinoceros avoid being active during the hottest part of the day, during which they wallow in mud or take shade. They escape the hot sun by mainly foraging during the night-time and also during cooler hours in the morning and afternoon. Although they spend a lot of time resting, black rhinos are fast runners – able to hit speeds of 55 km/h. Adult black rhinos are solitary and only come together to mate. Calves stay with their mothers for 2-3 years, although female calves may remain for longer.

Conservation status and threats

The black rhinoceros is classified by the IUCN as Critically Endangered. A number of threats are pushing the species towards extinction, but the major concern is poaching for the international trade in rhinoceros horn. Rhinoceros horn is used in traditional medicines and in ornamental use. Poaching rates have increased as the value of rhino horn has risen. Rhino horn currently sells for more than its weight in gold. This high value led to a record 433 rhinos (at least) being killed by poachers in South Africa alone in 2011. Poaching can often leave rhinos with horrific injuries from having their horns hacked off by poachers, which can often be fatal.

How you can help save the black rhino

The efforts of people like Peter Milton are crucial to protect the remaining black rhinos against being poached for the rhino horn trade. You can help Peter and his team in their patrol, surveillance and intelligence gathering work in South Africa by making a donation. Your donation will help protect the black rhino by supplying Peter Milton and his colleagues with the equipment needed to continue their work, as well as prosecute more poachers and train more people to do this vital work. With your help, this charismatic animal could have a brighter future.

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You can also volunteer on the ground or more importantly in spreading the word and donating your time and expertise. Here are 7 ways you can help even if you don’t live in South Africa.

Information researched and provided by Nikela Volunteer Danielle Boobyer