Battle-scarred black rhino bull

A black rhino bull approaches the Pondoro safari cruiser during a game drive. It is obvious that he had been in a fight from the bloody scars and gashes across his forehead.

Black rhino home ranges varies from 3 sq km in forest areas to 90 sq km in more arid terrain. Black rhino bull encounters might be peaceful or aggressive. Some bulls might have overlapping home ranges and meetings on this common ground tend to be peaceful with gentle head and horn nudging. Bulls would often just ignore each other upon establishing identity after an initial approach that might include dominance and threat displays.

A resident bull would however invariably attack when he meets a stranger inside his home range or territory (this is still unresolved). Black rhinos would jab at each other with upward thrusts of their front horns and they have the highest incidence amongst mammals of fatal intra-species fighting: almost 50 percent of males and 33 percent of females die from wounds. Most fatal wounds occur in the chest, neck and groin area.

The horn is made of keratin; the same material that nails and hooves are made of. It is in filament form and more fibrous at the base which is in contrast to the rest of the horn that can be quite smooth and polished. It grows at a rate of 60-100mm per year. The horn is kept sharp by rubbing and grinding it against logs and trees and is used in defense against predators and in fights as mentioned above. This continual wearing down of the horn does not make the length of the horn a reliable indicator of age. The horns of female also tend to be longer and more slender than those of the bulls.

This particular bull has been seen since this video was taken and he is doing fine and the wounds have completely healed.

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