Black Rhinoceros – life sized portrait
Watercolor on paper
IUCN status: Critically Endangered
Black rhinos are large, grassland dwelling African mammals. They browse leaves and shrubs using their prehensile hooked upper lip. The black rhino has suffered the most drastic population decline of any rhino species; between 1970 and 1992 their numbers decreased by 96%, from 65,000 to 2,300 surviving in the wild. Rhino species everywhere have suffered due to poaching for their horns, used for ceremonial decoration in the middle east and in Asian medicine.
Rhinoceros horns are made of keratin (like our fingernails) and have absolutely no medical qualities, although on the black market the horn is worth more than gold by weight. In the past 10 years black rhinos had been afforded strict protection and biological management, and their numbers are slowly recovering. There are currently around 5,000 individuals in the wild, although poaching remains a serious threat.