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Eastern Black Rhinoceros Fact Sheet

  • Latin Name

    Diceros bicornis michaeli
  • Class

  • Order

  • Range

    Eastern Africa

  • Status

    This species is listed as endangered and trade of its horn is prohibited by international law. The primary cause of population decline is hunting; rhino horn made into dagger handles is a symbol of wealth in many countries. Contrary to popular opinion, the horn is not consumed primarily as an aphrodisiac; only small amounts are used for this purpose. Lincoln Park Zoo participates in the Eastern Black Rhinoceros Species Survival Plan®, a shared conservation effort by zoos throughout the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

  • Habitat

    Eastern black rhinos inhabit transitional zones between grasslands and forests, generally in thick thorn bush or acacia scrub. However, they may also be found in more open country.

  • Niche

    As a herbivorous browser, the black rhino eats leafy plants as well as branches, shoots, thorny wood bushes and fruit. Rhino skin harbors many external parasites, which are eaten by tickbirds and egrets that live with the rhino. Young are preyed upon by hyenas. These solitary animals are more nocturnal than diurnal. Females are not territorial; their ranges vary according to food supply. Males are more aggressive in defending turf, but will tolerate properly submissive male intruders.

  • Life History

    Mating is non-seasonal, but births peak toward the end of the rainy season in drier habitats. Gestation is 15-16 months, after which single young are born weighing about 85 pounds. These calves are active soon after birth and can follow mother after about three days. Eastern black rhinos mature at five years.

  • Special Adaptations

    • Thick, layered skin protects rhinos from sharp grasses and thorns. Thick, padded soles on their feet absorb shock and cushion legs.
    • A prehensile upper lip helps in foraging and browsing.
    • Large ears can rotate to pick up sounds from many directions.
    • Horns used for defense and possibly display.
    • The eastern black rhino's aggressive disposition discourages predators. They tend to charge first and investigate later.

Science Spotlight: Rachel Santymire, Ph.D.

Science Spotlight: Rachel Santymire, Ph.D.

Science Spotlight: Rachel Santymire, Ph.D.

From black rhino hormones to snow leopard semen, amphibian skin swabs to hair-pulverizing machines, there’s no such thing as a typical day at the office for Rachel Santymire, Ph.D., director of Lincoln Park Zoo’s Davee Center for Endocrinology and Epidemiology.

Learn About the Davee Center’s Achievements


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