Black Rhinoceros – Diceros bicornis
There isn’t really a Black Rhinoceros in color, but the name of them is there to help distinguish them from the White Rhinoceros. They are large animals that have a small head and small ears. They have two horns that grow on top of the head. One of them can be up to 50 inches long and the other is about 20 inches long. Rarely a third and much smaller horn can develop as well.
They can easily weigh up to 3,000 pounds and be up to 12 feet long. They have a sold body with a very thick middle region. They have short legs that are stubby and allow them to move around easily. For a large sized animal they have both speed and agility on their side. When they run, they do so on their toes.
They have excellent smelling and hearing but lack decent vision. They have ears that are able to move on their own without the rest of the body having to move. The thick skin also helps these Rhinoceros in their natural environment. They are often in contact with sharp grasses and thorns. Their anatomy though allows them to move around in areas that other animals would find too difficult and that would result in severe cuts.
There are four subspecies of the Black Rhinoceros that have been identified. One of them has already been categorized as extinct as of 2011.
While fossil remains of early Rhinoceros have been found it is very hard to connect all of the dots. It is believed that they moved into warmer climates in search of food and shelter. That is when they lost their hair and developed thicker skin.
Most of the life of a Black Rhinoceros is spent on their own. The young will leave their mothers and set out to find a home range that they can use for food and shelter. The females are more likely to have territories that overlap each other. When they have young to care for they often gather in a central area to offer more protection for them. Males will come into those territories when they are looking for females to mate with.
These are aggressive animals but they are less likely to fight over territory than other species of Rhinoceros. They will fight more when they are looking for females to mate with or when there isn’t enough food to go around. They have the highest rate of combat among all of the species of Rhinoceros. It is believed that a large number of them die annually due to violence with each other.
The use a variety of sounds including bellows to communicate with each other when necessary. Generally these sounds are heard when a pair is going to mate. They are also heard in conjunction with a mother and her young interacting.
A large part of their day is spent trying to remain cool due to the immense heat. They will roll around in water and in the mud. They will also find shaded areas where they can remain hidden until the sun goes down.
Habitat and Distribution
This particular species of Rhinoceros lives in Africa, throughout the Savannahs. They can be found living in the plains or along the woodlands. There are several parts of Africa where they spread out. This include Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and Kenya. They tend to be able to adapt to a variety of changes in their environment. One thing that they do need is access to water. They can’t be without it so you will find that part of where they are distributed follows the patterns of the water.
Diet and Feeding Habits
Plants and grass are the main food sources of the Black Rhinoceros. They have the ability to consume foods that are found on thorny bushes and trees. When they need to they will eat bark from the tree trunks. They will also consume a variety of different fruits when they are in season. Water is essential to their survival and they can only go for a few days without it.
One of the threats to the Black Rhinoceros is the fact that humans continue to clear out the natural vegetation for other things. They may use that land to create their own agricultural areas. For the villagers that are trying to survive this type of advancement is one that helps them to do better. Yet it is also putting the future for these animals at risk.
There is no set window of opportunity when it comes to mating for the Black Rhinoceros. However, they will usually mate during the rainy season. The males are very aggressive for the right to mate. They will use their powerful bodies and their horns to battle it out. Only the strongest of the males will be able to successfully mate with the females.
The mating process can last for several weeks with this species of Rhinoceros. Once the female has a baby growing in her body it will remain there for about 15 months. They can be about 100 pounds at birth! They will grow very fast consuming the milk from the body of the mother. Just a few weeks after being born they will also start to consume various plants.
They will stay with their mother for a period of several years. When it is time for them to move to their own place they may have to struggle to find it. They need to find a habitat where they won’t be attacked by other males that feel threatened by them. The natural life expectancy for the Black Rhinoceros is from 35 to 50 years.
There aren’t too many animals in the wild that will risk their own life to take down a Black Rhinoceros. One that is able to do so though is the Nile Crocodile as they are also very large and powerful animals. Since these Rhinoceros go to the watering locations frequently it makes them a prime target.
However, they along with wild cats and wild dogs will typically focus on taking down the younger ones due to their size. The baby Rhinoceros may venture too far from the mother and be killed. As these animals get larger they are less likely to be taken down by predators.
Humans are a huge threat to the survival of the Black Rhinoceros though. For more than 30 years they have been heavily hunted. This is due to the fact that their horns can be sold for thousands of dollars. As the number of animals decreased and conservation increased the demand for them has gone up. The value has also increased, giving many humans the incentive they need to take part in such illegal acts.
Guided hunts for these remarkable animals continue to take place even though it is illegal. The villagers are very poor so they will accept bribes to take the hunters into the known locations. Many of these hunters are thrill seekers and they want their opportunity to kill such an animal before it is too late.