Black Rhinoceros for Kids – Endangered Species
Description: The Black Rhinoceros is a huge mammal that can measure up to twelve feet long. Black Rhinos vary in weight from about 2,000-4,000 pounds. They are entirely gray with very thick skin. Their actual color, however, is determined by the color of the soil in which they roll. The rhino’s thick skin helps protect it from thorns and sharp grasses. The Black Rhinoceros is characterized by its two large, keratin horns, the second of which can measure nearly three feet in length. Black Rhinos have large ears that can rotate to pick up sounds from many directions. Although Black Rhinos have an excellent sense of smell, their eyesight is very limited, which may explain why rhinos will charge before they investigate the target.
Diet: The Black Rhino is purely herbivorous and feeds on plants, branches and shoots. The Black Rhino forages mainly at night, using its prehensile (flexible or finger-like) lip to draw branches and leaves into its mouth. It is not unusual to see egrets and tickbirds climbing on the Black Rhino to feed on parasites that live in its skin.
Habitat/Range: The Black Rhino inhabits dense bush habitats in Sub-Saharan, eastern Africa.
Young/Reproduction: Females give birth to a single calf after a gestation period of 15-16 months. Calves weigh about 85 pounds at birth. Black Rhino calves can follow their mothers soon after birth. They reach full maturity at about 5 years.
Status: The Black Rhino is an endangered species. They have been hunted relentlessly for their valuable horns. Rhino horns are harvested by poachers who sell them for high prices to middle-eastern nations such as Yemen. They are then used to make dagger handles, which are signs of great wealth in such nations. In other nations, rhino horns are used as medicine to cure a range of different diseases and ailments. In an attempt to prevent poaching, some nations have tried programs in which they saw off rhino horns without actually hurting the animal. Unfortunately, even these rhinos have been killed by poachers.