The black rhino (Diceros bicornis) is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). According to IUCN, black rhino population declined by a staggering 97.6% from 1960 to the 1990’s, primarily as a result of poaching. In 1993, there were estimated to be just 2,300 black rhino living in the wild, but thanks to conservation efforts across Kenya and southern Africa, populations have risen to over 5,000 today. Here on Ol Pejeta, we hope to keep this number rising. With a population of over 130 black rhinos, we are the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa.
When early settlers came to eastern and southern Africa, rhino were hunted for sport and meat. Today the demand comes from Asia and the Middle East, where rhino horn is falsely considered to have medicinal properties and is used to make ornamental dagger handles. A kilo of rhino horn can fetch up to $60,000 on the black market. Ironically, rhino horn is just made of the same substance as human fingernails – keratin.
On-going efforts by Ol Pejeta and similar organisations across Africa are slowly but surely helping black rhino populations increase. Ol Pejeta had 20 black rhino in 1993, and successful breeding combined with tough anti-poaching operations allowed this number to flourish to over 110 today.
Adult male black rhino weigh up to 1,350 kg and females up to 900 kg.
Black rhinos are smaller than white rhinos, and there is actually no colour difference between them at all. Black rhinos use their hooked lip to browse shrubs – and prefer thick bush habitat. They are generally more solitary and shy than white rhino, and have a reputation for being more aggressive too!