Diceros bicornis

The Black Rhino was once the most numerous of all the living rhino species. It ranged widely throughout sub-Saharan Africa, except for the Congo Basin and other areas of tropical forest. At one time the population would have been measured in hundreds of thousands – even in the early 1970s some 70,000 still roamed wild. This map depicts the approximate distribution of the five Black Rhino subspecies.

The distribution of the Black Rhino has contracted drastically over the past 50 years and the species is now extinct throughout much of its range. The population reached an all time low of 2410 in 1995. Since then numbers have increased steadily, predominantly in southern Africa, and the current population is estimated at 5,495.

Updated date: August 19, 2019
The Western Black Rhino D. b. longipes roamed south of the Sahara in the savanna regions of central-west Africa.
The North Eastern Black Rhino D. b. brucii roamed in central Sudan, Eritrea, northern and south-eastern Ethiopia, Djibouti and southeastern Somalia.
The range of the Eastern Black Rhino D. b. michaeli extended from southern Sudan, Ethiopia, and Somalia, through Kenya into northern-central Tanzania and Rwanda.
The South-central Black Rhino D. b. minor occurred from southern Tanzania through Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique to the northern parts of South Africa. It probably also occurred in southern Democratic Republic of the Congo, northern Angola, eastern Botswana, Malawi, and Swaziland.
The Southern Black Rhino D. b. bicornis once ranged across much of southern Africa.

This representation of the historical distribution of the Black Rhino is derived from a combination of two sources: circa 1500 from “New maps representing the historical and recent distribution of the African species of rhinoceros: Diceros bicornis, Ceratotherium simum and Ceratotherium cottoni, by Kees Rookmaker and Pierre-Olivier Antoine, published in Pachyderm No. 52 July–December 2012; and circa 1700 from “Status Survey and Consolidated Action Plan: African Rhino“, compiled by Richard Emslie and Martin Brookes, published in 1999 by the IUCN/SSC AfRSG.

The Northeastern Black Rhino D. b. brucii is extinct. The last relict population in northern Somalia vanished in the early 1900s.
The Eastern Black Rhino D. b. michaeli, is the rarest of the three surviving subspecies. It is now confined to Kenya and Tanzania. It has been reintroduced into Rwanda. There is also a small, introduced breeding population in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province.
The Western Black Rhino D. b. longipes was declared extinct in November 2011. Cameroon was its last stronghold where It was last recorded in 2006.
The only naturally occurring South-central Black Rhino D. b. minor live in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Mozambique (possibly). The subspecies has been reintroduced to Botswana, Swaziland and Zambia.
Except for Namibia (its last remaining stronghold) the Southern Black Rhino D. b. bicornis is now extinct throughout its former range. Possibly a few remain in southern Angola.

Extant naturally occurring populations
Introduced/re-introduced populations
Possible populations
Extinct populations

Updated date: August 19, 2019