"Buffalo Kloof has wonderful habitat for black rhino, so we’re very pleased and hopeful that they will contribute meaningfully to the numbers of this endangered species.” - BRREP Project Leader Dr Jacques Flamand
It’s been over two years now since the relocation of Black Rhino to Buffalo Kloof, and words cannot describe the difference they have made to the conservancy. There is no other animal like it, they are elusive, but one can expect to bump into them often, receiving a typical “Black Rhino” mock charge.
Black Rhinos are browsers. Their prehensile upper lip is adapted for grasping and holding leaves and branches of shrubs and trees. Rhinos have been around for millions of years and play a crucial role in their ecosystem. They are a keystone species, consuming large amounts of vegetation, which helps shape the African landscape. This benefits other animals and keeps a healthy balance within the ecosystem.
You would be amazed by the plants you find the Black Rhino eating, spiny, thorny, thick branches on which you would never even think of getting your hands. But they love it; the more thorns, the better for them, it seems! It has always astonished us how they cut fairly thick branches with many thorns and chew on them without injury.
Black Rhinos have distinctive front teeth. The angle of the front premolar teeth is at 45 degrees, so if the branches have been cut at a 45-degree angle, it is indicative of a Black Rhino having browsed it because no other browsers do that.
Black Rhino are known to eat almost 122 different plants of the Eastern Cape thicket, and Buffalo Kloof has an extremely dense thicket, making it the ideal place for Black Rhinos to roam. It’s not often you don’t find a Black Rhino not browsing, as they must consume a relatively large amount of vegetation to support their body weight.
Here are some of their favourite plant species they enjoy browsing at Buffalo Kloof:
- Euclea undulata- Common Guari
- Coddia rudis – Small Coddica / Small bone apple
- Plumbago auriculata – Plumbago
- Azima tetracantha – Needle Bush
- Euphorbia triangularis – River Tree Euphorbia
- Ozoroa mucronata – Eastern Cape Resin Tree
- Asparagus striartis – Karoo Asparagus
- Grewia occidentalis – Cross berry raisin bush
- Vachellia Karoo – Sweet Thorn Acacia (Acacia Karoo)
- Schotia afra – Karoo Boer-bean
- Datura stramonium – Thorn apple (Stinkblaar)
We hope you learned something new about this unique species in our blog. Also, let us know in the comments if you know of any other plant species the Black Rhino particularly enjoys!