The Black Rhino is one of two species of rhinoceros that are natively found in Africa (the other being the larger White Rhino). Also known as the Hook-Lipped Rhino, the Black Rhino has a thin top lip that is specially designed for ripping leaves off trees and bushes and despite it's name, is not black in colour at all but instead tends to have fairly light coloured skin.
There are thought to be four different subspecies of Black Rhino that differ slightly in both appearance (the horns of some are straighter or more curved than others) and where they live, as certain species are better adapted to more arid climates where others prefer the lush, tree-lined grassy plains. Out of the four Black Rhino subspecies, the South-central Black Rhino is the most numerous.
Despite there being a number of recognised subspecies of Black Rhino, sadly the West African Black Rhino was declared to be extinct in the wild on July 8th 2006 after only 10 individuals were recorded in 2003. Although the other Black Rhino subspecies are not quite in this position yet, they are all under threat with the Black Rhino being one of Africa's most critically endangered mammals.
Once having roamed throughout much of southern, central and eastern Africa, the Black Rhino is today confined to smaller and smaller areas of it's once vast natural range with habitat loss to growing Human settlements and agriculture being one of the main reasons for their drastic demise. However, one of the biggest threats to Black Rhinos are poachers that have obliterated populations in certain areas.
Hunted and captured primarily for their long horns which are known to grow up to 1.5 meters in length, the Black Rhino has been subjected to illegal poaching for decades and although control measures are increasing it sadly still happens today. With just over 3,000 Black Rhinos still found in Africa, their numbers have recovered slightly due to conservation efforts but they still remain under serious threat in their natural habitats.