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The black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) is a massive, double-horned species that has grayish rather than black skin coloring. These independent animals typically live in damp forest, desert, shrubland, savanna and grassland habitats of Africa, from South African and Tanzania to Zimbabwe and beyond. As of 2012, black rhinos have been assigned "critically endangered" population status by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
The "critically endangered" classification of the black rhino is due to the species' immense, 97.6 percent population drop from the beginning of the 1960s. At around the closing of 2010, the estimate for the population of black rhinos was 4,880 specimens. Due to conservation efforts, including designated havens for the species, however, numbers of black rhinoceroses are seeing consistent improvement. In 1995, fewer than 2,500 black rhinos roamed the wild.
Unlawful poaching activities are a severe risk for black rhinoceroses. Since the 1970s, poaching has been a major culprit behind the reduced population of these herbivores -- all in pursuit of their horns, which are used for the production of both daggers and medicine. Poaching may be the biggest concern for black rhinos' continued existence as a species, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Black rhinos are very susceptible to poaching for a variety of reasons, one of which is their bad vision, according to the San Diego Zoo Library. If a black rhino cannot see a poacher approaching, it makes it a lot harder to escape.
Other Causes of Black Rhino Endangerment
Although poaching certainly takes the front seat in the critical endangerment of black rhinoceroses, habitat alterations also contribute to lowered numbers of the species. Black rhinos are also sometimes perceived by the public as being menacing and unstable animals to human beings, and as a result of that, are also frequently killed.
Missions to Save Black Rhinos
Apart from the establishment of protected havens for black rhinos to roam about freely and safely, illicit trading for their horns has been forbidden on an international scale. Captive breeding programs around the world are also in full swing, including one at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo of New South Wales, Australia.
- San Diego Zoo Library: Black Rhino Fact Sheet
- IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Diceros bicornis
- University of Michigan Animal Diversity Web: Diceros bicornis
- World Wildlife Fund: Black Rhinoceros
- ARKive: Black Rhinoceros
- National Geographic: Black Rhinoceros
- Taronga Conservation Society Australia: Black Rhinoceros
- EDGE: Black Rhinoceros
- WAZA: Black Rhinoceros
- Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte/Getty Images