Most Unique African Safari Animals: Rhinoceros

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There are white and black rhinoceros, yet the black rhino is not only one of the most beautifully unique species on the planet, it is also one that may not be seen for much longer given the current course.

This gorgeous animal grows to 12.3 ft long and five to six feet tall on average, and adults usually weigh 1,800 to 3,100 lbs. Some males even get up to 6,385 lbs — more than an armored humvee!

Its most notable feature, its two striking horns, can grow as long as 55 inches, although they are more often in the 20 inch range. Unfortunately, this world-famous appendage is also the bane of the black rhino’s existence. Poachers slaughter thousands of rhinos every year when they harvest their horns, devastating the already thin numbers. As of now, there are predicted to be less than a few hundred black rhinos located outside of controlled preserves.

Those who go on an African safari have a rare chance at seeing this exquisite species in its own habitat while supporting the cause to protect them from becoming extinct forever.

Difference Between Black and White Rhinos

The black rhino has recently been dubbed the more-accurate common species name of “hook-lipped rhinoceros.” This is because, firstly, the black rhinoceros is not really black but most commonly a range between brown and grey.

Secondly, the most obvious distinguishing trait between the “black” rhino and the white rhino is the shape of their upper lips. Hook-lipped rhinoceros have their characteristic hooked upper lip drooping at an angle atop their lower jaw. This lip is highly flexible, and it can be used to manipulate and strip vegetation branches to obtain the leaves that comprise its diet. The trait marks the hook-lipped rhino as a “browsing” species that eats foliage as opposed to grasses.

By contrast, the white rhino or “square-lipped rhino” grazes upon tall grasses, making a straight, wide upper lip more advantageous when pulling in vegetation. An additional difference between the species is that the white rhino is generally larger in height, length and weight.

Where to See the Black Rhino on African Safari

As a critically endangered species, black rhino populations are isolated to a few scattered wildlife preserves as well as a handful of unprotected areas.

One of the best places to observe black rhinos is at the Laikipia District in Kenya. There, the Ol Pejeta Wildlife Reserve qualifies as the world’s largest black rhino sanctuary, and the Lew Wildlife Conservancy nearby has had great success deterring poachers while growing their local black rhino population.

The Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania is home to quite a few black rhinos. You will also find elephants, wild dogs and a huge diversity of bird species there.

Those who want to spot the rare free-ranging black rhino can find examples of desert-adapted subspecies along the Damaraland and Palmwag regions of western Namibia.

Finally, South Africa has a few scattered populations of black rhino near the Southern Kalahari region at the Tswalu Kalahari Private Reserve as well as the Madikwe Game Reserve, which is just four hours northwest of Johannesburg.

You can pick any of these destinations along with many others when you book one of our many African safari tour packages today.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

 

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