African Black Rhino

The African black rhino

The black rhino is one of the two African rhinoceros species found in east and southern Africa. The species is distinguished by a unique hook-lipped mouth unlike the white rhinos which have a wide mouth.  Black rhinos are typically browsing herbivores same as giraffes, bushbucks, and klipspringers. They feed on tree leaves, twigs, branches, and shrubs other than grazing on grass. A mature black rhino can consume up to 30 kg of plant matter every day and weighs between 700 –1,300 kg. As such, the mammals play a vital role in the maintaining scrub vegetation and keeping a balanced ecosystem. However, the population of black rhinos greatly declined during the 20th century due to poaching fueled by demand for their horns in the traditional Chinese medicine market.

The Black rhino is critically endangered

According to World Wildlife Fund, the estimated number was 2,410 black rhinos by 1995. Meaning that they had became extinct in several places in their original geographical range across Sub-Saharan Africa. Besides creating imbalances in the ecosystem in countries that lost black rhinos had their conservation and tourism affected. Given that black rhinos are one of the Big 5 African mammal species and a major draw for African wildlife safaris.

Responsible safaris are helping to generate revenue. Which is invested in research and conservation, anti-poaching measures, and community involvement. In addition, there are ongoing translocation programs to re-establish black rhino populations back to protected areas where they became extinct. For instance, the African Parks Network has done a great job of reintroducing black rhinos in 3 protected areas including Akagera in Rwanda, Zakouma in Chad, Majete and Liwonde in Malawi. The black rhino population has increased from 2,410 to over 6,487 individuals. With concerted efforts among states, conservation organizations, private rhino ranch owners, and local communities alike. There’s some success in maintaining a stable black rhino populations in recent years. Which highlights the importance of ongoing efforts to protect the iconic species.

Poaching levels for black rhinos continue to decline

According to the IUCN Red List press release 19th March 2020, poaching levels for black rhinos have continued to decline following the peak in 2015. Data indicates that “a minimum of 1,349 rhinos were found to have been poached.  An average of 3.7 rhinos poached per day. Since then, poaching numbers have decreased every year with a minimum of 892 rhinos poached. That’s about 2.4 African rhinos poached every day, or one every ten hours.”

Despite the fact that a significant recovery from the brink of extinction is at hand. Black rhinos remain critically endangered on the IUCN Red List of endangered species. The major threats to their survival include poaching and habitat loss. Protecting the species can be challenging especially in large unfenced protected areas. The risk of rhinos being poached can be higher. For instance, the Serengeti ecosystem encompasses over 30,000 sq.km with Masai Mara national reserve (1,510 sq.km) and Serengeti national park (14,763 sq.km). This underpins the hardworking and smart role played by wildlife ranger. They spend a lot of time patroling the protected areas. That’s why there’s need to support them with latest technology to do their operations smoothly.

African black rhino population

The 10 African countries and their estimated black rhino populations include as follows:-

  1. Namibia:  2,156 black rhinos.
  2. South Africa: 2,056 black rhinos.
  3. Kenya: 938 black rhinos.
  4. Zimbabwe: 616 black rhinos.
  5. Tanzania: 212 black rhinos.
  6. Zambia: Fewer than 58 black rhinos.
  7. Swaziland (Eswatini): 48 black rhinos.
  8. Malawi: 56 black rhinos.
  9. Botswana: 35 black rhinos.
  10. Rwanda: over 28 black rhinos

According to African and Asian Rhino Specialist Groups data. The numbers are estimated and constantly change due to conservation efforts, poaching incidents, and habitat conditions.