Black Rhinos are slowly recovering from a 96% decline in population, and are now up to about 4,900 surviving today, thanks to conservation efforts.
During the last century, the black rhino has suffered the most drastic decline in total numbers of all rhino species. As recently as 1970, it was estimated that there were approximately 70,000 black rhinos in Africa – but, by the 1990′s there were only about 2,500 surviving in the wild. This was mainly due to illegal poaching for their horn, and to a lesser extent by loss of habitat.
The Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) is native to the eastern and central areas of Africa including Kenya, Tanzania, Cameroon, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Angola.
Although referred to as black, the name is misleading as it is actually more of a grey/brown/white colour in appearance. This was done to distinguish it from the White Rhino. The word white in the name is, however, a mistranslation of the Dutch word “wijd” for wide, referring to its square upper lip, as opposed to the pointed or hooked lip of the Black Rhinoceros.
These species are now sometimes referred to as the Square-lipped (for White) or Hook-lipped (for Black) Rhinoceros.
Intensive anti-poaching efforts have had encouraging results and numbers have been recovering and still are increasing very slowly – although the specie is still considered Critically Endangered. With the growing purchasing power of many Asian countries, and the existence of organized gangs of poachers (since 2006) who sell rhino horn to black market syndicates in some range countries, the poaching threat remains great.
The conservation efforts in KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa) are probably text book examples of how conservation can be done and the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Park more than worth a visit, if you wish to encounter the endangerd Black Rhino.