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Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) Fact Sheet: Distribution & Habitat


Wide historic distribution

  • Sub-Saharan Africa
    • Everywhere except extremely mesic and xeric (dry) areas.

Current distribution

  • Small isolated pockets in sub-Saharan Africa
  • Ecomorph (subspecies) distributions (Harley et al. 2005)
    • D. b. bicornis (southwestern)
      • Historical - Namibia, S. Angola, W. Botswana, and S.W. South Africa
      • Present - most in deserts and arid savannahs of Namibia; reintroduced populations in South Africa and other parts of Namibia; possibly a few in Angola
    • D. b. longipes (western)
      • Historical - savannahs of central western Africa
      • Recent - Cameroon
      • Present - considered extinct as of 2006 (Emslie, 2012)
    • D. b. michaeli (eastern)
      • Historical - S. Sudan, Ethiopia, and Somalia, through Kenya to N. central Tanzania
      • Present - mostly Kenya; small numbers in Rwanda and Tanzania, and a game reserve in South Africa (well outside its range)
    • D. b. minor (south central)
      • Historical - W., S. Tanzania through Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique to N. and E. South Africa
      • Present - mostly in South Africa (stronghold) and Zimbabwe; fewer in Swaziland, S. Tanzania, and Mozambique



  • Often in regions with a high diversity of woody shrubs and herbaceous plants
  • Not found in closed canopy forests or open grasslands

Distribution Map

Black Rhino distribution map

Black Rhino distribution.
Adapted from according to IUCN fact sheet. Click here or on map for detailed distribution (IUCN).

Page Citations

Emslie (2012)
Emslie & Brooks (1999)
Harley et al. (2005)

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