The Animals of the Aberdare Ranges of Kenya: Black Rhinoceros


Black Rhinoceros

Black Rhinoceros
( Diceros Bicornis Micheali)

The black rhino is a large mammal.

It gets its name from wallowing in dark-colored mud, for the actual color of its skin when clean is grayish brown. The black rhino weighs up to 700-1600 Kg (1,540 – 3,530 lb). The locals call it kifaru because it is so massive. The Aberdare Ranges have only a very small population of black rhino. In fact, the animal is considered an endangered species. A rapidly shrinking habitat as well as massive poaching are the major causes of this. The black rhino population in the whole of Kenya has dropped to about 450 animals – and this has occurred in the last ten to fifteen years.

Black rhinos occur in wooded or brush areas as opposed to open grassland. They have a hooked or prehensile upper lip, which is able to grab things. This enables them to gather leaf and woody plant when they browse.

Rhinos need fresh water for drinking. They also need waterholes so that they can wallow in mud. This protects their skin from insects as well as helping them to keep cool. During a drought, they can survive only four to five days without drinking.

The horn, for which it is hunted, is not a true horn. Rather, it is made up of thickly matted hair without skeletal support.

Black rhinos have stationary to overlapping territories. The males, however, tolerate subordinate males. Females with calves are generally solitary but will adopt abandoned juveniles. Black rhinos are unpredictable and can be dangerous. At full charge, they reach 40 mph (65 km/hr). Though they have very poor eyesight, they have an acute sense of smell. They will charge vehicles and campsites at the mere whiff of human scent. Though most of these charges are bluffs, the black rhino can do a lot of damage with its horn.

Black rhinos breed throughout the year. Females give birth to a single calf every two to five years. Gestation lasts 15 -16 months. The calf is weaned at two years and is independent in 2½ to 3½ years. Males reach sexual maturity at four to six years and females in seven to nine years. The body length measures 10′ (3m) and the height measures at 4.6′ – 6′ (1.4m -1.8m) at the shoulders.

Black rhinos eat many plants which are considered dangerous to other animals. Their diet consists of bushes, seedlings, leaves and fruits.

Scientists are studying de-horning as a way of curbing poaching. Fortunately, this does not seem to affect the animal’s social interactions, or its ability to defend itself or feed.

The Animals of the
Aberdare Ranges of Kenya
by
Nyambura Kiarie

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