Africa is home to a variety of iconic and unique animals, like this Black Rhinoceros.
This imposing Black Rhino stands 1.5 metres high and 2.2 metres long. The protruding upper jaw features a short triangular snout flanked by two ping-pong-ball-sized nostrils. Horizontally in line with these are its slightly smaller green eyes. On top of its head are two hand-sized conical shaped horns, the first slightly in line in the middle of its face, two trumpet ears sit at 45 degree angles either side of its raised forehead.
Its hooved straight forelegs and hefty hind legs support its stocky cylindrical body, covered by matt black wrinkled hide, which folds under the belly. Bones rise like low mountain peaks at the rear and a slim tail hangs hallway to the floor.
The Black Rhino’s distant relative called the Paraceratherium roamed the Earth 50 million years ago and was possibly the largest land mammal to have ever lived. Although there was a diverse range of rhino species 35 million years ago, only five species have survived to modern times.
The Black Rhinoceros was the most common of all rhinoceros species in the last century, but is now Critically Endangered and lives almost entirely in protected sanctuaries. Over the last 150 years its numbers have decreased by 96% due to intense poaching for its horn and widespread land clearing.
The Black Rhino plays a critical role in maintaining a healthy balance within the African landscape and ecosystem. Hopefully with effective conservation efforts and the involvement of local communities, it will stage a comeback.