Subspecies The intraspecific variation in the black rhinoceros was discussed by various authors and is not finally settled. The most accepted scheme considers seven or eight subspecies, of which three became extinct in historical times and one is on the very brink of extinction:
- Southern black rhinoceros or Cape rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis bicornis) – Extinct. Once abundant from the Cape of Good Hope to Transvaal, South Africa and probably into the south of Namibia, this was the largest subspecies. It became extinct by excessive hunting and habitat destruction around 1850.
- North-eastern black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis brucii) – Extinct. Formerly central Sudan, Eritrea, northern and southeastern Ethiopia, Djibouti and northern and southeastern Somalia. Relict populations in northern Somalia vanished during the early 20th century.
- Chobe black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis chobiensis) – A local subspecies restricted to the Chobe Valley in southeastern Angola, Namibia (Caprivi Strip) and northern Botswana. Nearly extinct, possibly only one surviving specimen in Botswana.
- Uganda black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis ladoensis) – Former distribution from South Sudan, across Uganda into western Kenya and southwesternmost Ethiopia. Black rhinos are considered extinct across most of this area and its conservational status is unclear. Probably surviving in Kenyan reserves.
- Western black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis longipes) – Extinct. Once lived in South Sudan, northern Central African Republic, southern Chad, northern Cameroon, northeastern Nigeriaand south-eastern Niger. The range possibly streched west to the Niger River in western Niger, though this is unconfirmed. A far greater former range in West Africa as proposed earlier is doubted by a 2004 study. The last known wild specimens lived in northern Cameroon. In 2006 an intensive survey across its putative range in Cameroon failed to locate any, leading to fears that it was extinct in the wild. On November 10, 2011 the IUCN declared the western black rhinoceros extinct.
- Eastern black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis michaeli) – Had a historical distribution from South Sudan, Ethiopia, down through Kenya into north-central Tanzania. Today, its range is limited primarily to Tanzania.
- South-central black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis minor) – Most widely distributed subspecies, characterised by a compact body, proportionally large head and prominent skin-folds. Ranged from north-eastern South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal) to northeastern Tanzania and southeastern Kenya. Preserved in reserves throughout most of its former range but probably extinct in eastern Angola, southern Democratic Republic of Congo and possibly Moçambique. Extinct but reintroduced in Malawi, Botswana, and Zambia.
- South-western black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis occidentalis) – A small subspecies, adapted to survival in desertic and semi-desertic conditions. Originally distributed in north-western Namibia and southwestern Angola, today restricted to wildlife reserves in Namibia with sporadic sightings in Angola. These populations are often erroneously referred to D. b. bicornis or D. b. minor but represent a subspecies to their own.
Historical and extant range
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