Response to Humans
“Cuddly” is not a word many people would use to describe
black rhino, but I have known a few that would
definitely fall into that category. I had one young
female who used to stand, every morning, at the one spot
in the wall of the boma where I could fit my arms
through in order to give her a daily cuddle. When I got
to her, she would lay down at the wall and push herself
as close as possible so that my arms could reach almost
all the way around her to maximize her belly rub.
Black rhino have a reputation for being aggressive in the wild.
They will, in fact, charge humans if they come across them, but it
is rare that they will deliberately injure people. Generally, black
rhino charge you to let you know that you are in their territory and
they are not thrilled and would like you to leave. Unless you
continue to harass that individual or come across a female with a
calf or a particularly aggressive individual, it is unlikely they
will want to cause you physical harm. They charge you to warn you,
not to hurt you, unlike some other large game species.
It is surprising how quickly black rhino tame down when they come
into captivity from the wild. The first few days they are in the boma can be extremely stressful for them, but with the right
management, they tame down quickly. Usually within two to three
weeks, I am able to hand feed these wild caught rhino and it’s often
not long before they are enjoying belly rubs or getting scratched
behind their ears and in their wrinkles. There are individuals that
do not tame down well and some stay so anxious that they are
released back into the wild before they are moved. Others might not
be as tractable during their period in captivity, but as long as
they are settled enough to maintain or gain condition during the
process, they can be translocated.
Over time, black rhino do not time down as much as white rhino do,
but in their initial period in captivity, they tame down much
faster. They appear to reach a period in captivity where they get
impatient, easily agitated, and stop gaining or even lose
condition. The time frame varies for each individual and some can
do well their whole lives in captivity while others seem to get fed
up after a few weeks.