Trophy hunting black rhino in South Africa

Trophy hunting black rhinos

Trophy hunting black rhinos in South Africa is to add to the hunters’ coveted Big 5 collection. Poaching and lack of suitable, safe habitat of rhinos is putting a strain on black rhino hunting prices and populations. Rhino owners are forever having to apply new methods of protecting their assets. This unfortunately costs money and the end-user pays for it. We have tried to contain our hunting expenses so we can pass any savings on to you as a hunter.

A very limited number of tags are issued annually for trophy hunting black rhinos in the whole of southern Africa. To legally hunt a black rhino we require a pre-issued black rhino hunting tag even before we advertise availability of a black rhino hunt.

Trophy hunting black rhinos in South Africa

Trophy hunting black rhino in South Africa – the law

The law on hunting black rhino in South Africa stipulate that bow hunting black rhino is illegal.

Legal black rhino hunting only takes place once a sustainable population of black rhino exists on any property.

Issuing of government permits to legally hunt black rhino is done under strict control of the authorities. No legal black rhino hunt hunt can take place without a pre-issued permit or tag. Tags for hunting black- and white rhinos are issued to bona fide hunters only. We have to submit a full application to have the hunter approved before you arrive in the country.

Black rhino hunting in South Africa is legal subject to strict regulations being met.

Black rhino hooked lip
Historical background to black rhino

More than 40 years ago rhino were simply seen as game animals on ranches. They were merely tolerated as they competed for fodder that became scarce during the dry winter conditions in South Africa. Visionary individuals in the Fish and Wildlife government department started a comprehensive breeding and conservation project trying to raise the dwindling numbers of rhino.

With the initial projects being a major success, small groups of black rhino were made available to private individuals who started their own breeding projects. Over time these breeding projects became such a huge success with numbers increasing by such an extent that sport hunting black rhino was legally permitted but a few years ago.

Owning black rhino is a business. Every business must make a sustainable profit to secure jobs, and equally as important, to maintain sustainable animal populations. This is where legal sport hunting plays a vital role. Hunters pay to have the opportunity to hunt rhinos and with the yield the next generation of black rhino can be maintained and grown.

Please bear in mind that no hunter condones illegal hunting in the form of poaching. There is a huge difference between hunting and poaching. When we legally hunt rhinos in South Africa we pay a hefty tag fee to government. We pay a trophy fee to the owner. We pay taxes and we make a living. With poaching there is no permission sought, no tag fees are paid and there are no taxes. Mostly, rhinos suffer in pain when shot with incorrect rifle calibers and wrong shot placement. Then they have their horns hacked off mercilessly with machetes. No hunter will ever allow such utter gruesome behavior get in their way to achieve a successful black rhino hunt.

Read our recommendations below with regards to calibers we recommend for black rhino hunting.

Black rhino hunters must have nerves of steel. Black rhinos are known to charge just to investigate a possible danger source.

Why rhinos are poached

Black rhinos are poached for their horns. The horns are used as ingredients for home remedies in the medicinal trade. In most cases the medication is manufactured for the people from the East. The medication is used as treatment for cancer and as an aphrodisiac.

Black rhino horn is compressed hair and can be likened to finger nails. There is scientifically and logically zero health benefits in using rhino horn in any form for medicinal purposes.

However, the monumental issue we are dealing with is the centuries old customs and beliefs of a nation(s) which we believe will never be stopped. Until the very last black rhino is murdered into extinction. This is why hunter money can and will save black rhino populations. For as long as black rhino remain a valuable monetary asset the owners will ensure the survival of the specie.

Who are legal black rhino hunters

Legal black rhino hunters are mostly wealthy hunters as black rhino do not come cheap. They are experienced hunters who most likely started hunting the Big 5 and have to add to their Big 5.

Poachers are criminals with bad equipment interested in a few dollars. They usually have two accomplices of which one is a tracker and the other a general laborer. These people should receive the full force of the law when caught poaching a vital part of South Africa’s natural heritage.

Cost to hunt black rhino

The cost to trophy hunt black rhino in South Africa for the 2020 hunting season is determined according to the availability of tags and animals.

Our black rhino hunting prices in South Africa are set according to the size of the horn of the black rhino you wish to hunt along with your budget.


Our preferred ammunition manufacturer is Hornady and Federal Premium in just about any weight.

Use the heaviest solid projectiles available for your caliber. Make sure those projectiles consistently shoot accurate from the rifle you intend using. Remember the legal minimum caliber. Read more about the legal minimum caliber to hunt black rhino with further along this page.

Gun scope for hunting black rhino

A premium 1,5 – 6 X gun scope is recommended for trophy hunting black rhino in South Africa due to the expected short average shot distance.

In some cases hunters prefer to hunt black rhino with open sights. This is mostly done when they are hunting with double rifles in the old fashion. This happens if your vision is still 20/20 either due to being blessed, or due to age.

Caliber for hunting black rhino

We recommend the following calibers as being the best calibers for trophy hunting black rhino in South Africa:

Black rhino shot placement diagram

Black rhino shot placement diagram
Broadside shot

Shot placement on black rhino on a broadside shot is twofold:

  • you can opt for a heart shot, in which case you must aim in line with the front leg right on the roll formed by the thick skin,  or
  • go for a lung shot – this is by far the safest shot to take. If you have culled more than 100 black rhino, you should know where the brain of a black rhino is. We strongly recommend a lung shot if you are planning on hunting less than 10 black rhino in your lifetime. Between a heart and a lung shot, go for the lung shot as the size of the lungs are way bigger than the heart.

You will likely be very close to the rhino before you take the shot. In this case your adrenaline will be pumping. Go for the safer shot option.

Quartering away shot

We strongly recommend you wait for a broadside shot. Penetration is very important.

Quartering to

Rather wait for a broadside shot due to the sheer mass of the animal.

Facing on

Only attempt a brain shot if you are an experienced rhino hunter. Brain shots are risky due to the front horn obscuring the relatively small brain area.

Frontal chest shots should only be considered if you are in a situation where no other shot taking is possible.

Interesting black rhino facts

Below are a few interesting facts on black rhino. This may assist when you finally decide to trophy hunt your own black rhino.

When you are finally going to add a black rhino to your Big 5, it will be important to know more on your adversary. Below are a number of interesting white black facts that might come in handy.

The information is from personal observations over 24 years, but more scientifically from:

Smithers, R.H.N. 1983. Die soogdiere van die Suider-Afrikaanse substreek. Universiteit van Pretoria: 562 – 566

Trophy hunting black rhino prices

Black rhino scientific name

Black rhino scientific name: Diceros bicornis

Mature black rhino have a shoulder height of approximately 63” (160 cm)

Average body weight of a mature black rhino bull is between just shy of 1 900 lbs and 2 200 lbs. (852 kg and 1 000 kg).

Average body weight of a mature black rhino cow is approximately 1 950 lbs (884 kg).

Trophy hunting black rhino caliber

Black rhino habitat

Black rhino are browsers. This means they eat leaves, shrubs and young trees. It has been recorded they also push over small trees to reach the juicy edible parts they could not otherwise reach.

Dense wooded areas are required for shade during the heat of the day. These areas also provide shelter during increment weather conditions.

A consistent water source is a must. Water not only fulfils in their hydration needs but also acts as a wallow source. A crust of mud will act as a temporary screen against sun and insects.

Black rhino will seldom be further than 6 – 9 miles away from water. Studies showed black rhino can and will dig for water in dry river beds. Bush encroachment is to the advantage of the habitat of black rhino.

Trophy hunting black rhino South Africa

Black rhino habits

Black rhinos tend to be loners. The only temporary bond between two members will be between the cow and her calf. This bond will be severed with the birth of the next calf.

Studies in East Africa showed black rhino bulls are not territorial. Home ranges can be interwoven and when bulls meet up they tend to avoid each other.

In dense wooded areas adult bulls and cows with their calves will have a territory of between 500 acres (200 ha) and 540 acres (220 ha).

During the heat of the day black rhinos tend to rest up in the shade of a tree remaining quite still. Sometimes they curl their legs under their bodies when lying down.

Black rhino have a reputation of being short tempered. A black rhino charge can indicate it is merely investigating a possible source of danger.

Trophy hunting black rhino Africa

Black rhino reproduction

Black rhinos can calve any time of year.

Reproduction activities of black rhino include a long courtship influenced by the cow. Cows will spray small quantities of urine indicating they are receptive. When the bull smells the urine he exhibits flehmen* behavior.

The bull approaches the cow with stiff front legs, dragging his hind legs until he reaches the cow. A friendly sparring of horns takes place where after he mounts her several times. Courtship can last for several hours during which the bull will be most intolerant to other bulls in the vicinity.

When successful mating happens it can last for 30 minutes or longer.

A single calf is born 15 months later weighing in at around 88 lbs (40 kg). The calf can move around and start suckling after three hours. During this process it would be good advice to avoid mother and child as the mother is extremely intolerant of any kind of disturbance.

Flehmen behavior: This response is characterized by the animal curling back its top lip exposing the front teeth and gums, then inhaling and holding the posture for several seconds[3]. The behavior may be performed over particular locations, in which case the animal may also lick the site of interest, or may perform the flehmen with the neck stretched and head held high in the air for a more general gustatory or taste-related investigation. The flehmen response often gives the appearance that the animal is looking spiteful, grimacing, smirking or laughing. (Source:

Black rhino hooked lip

Black rhino description

One of the distinct physiological differences between black rhino and white rhino is the occurrence of a hooked lip (also known as a prehensile lip) on the black rhino. The lip is used to grab small branches and woody plants they feed on. Black rhino are browsers whilst white rhino are grazers.

An interesting aspect associated with black rhino is scars on their skin that can be attributed to the filaria parasite.  Scars usually occur behind the shoulders, on the chest, neck and the front legs. These scars fester and bleed.

Red-billed oxpeckers and yellow-billed oxpeckers are two bird species that are closely associated with black- and white rhino. These birds feed on ticks, flies and the blood oozing from the filarial scars. Oxpeckers also find their food on other hosts walking in the bush and are not limited to only tagging a ride on rhinos.

The birds and rhinos have a mutually beneficial arrangement. The birds get fed and in turn will loudly warn their hosts of imminent danger even when the rhinos are sleeping.

Oxpeckers in the Afrikaans language are known as renoster voëls which on a direct translation reverts to rhino birds in the English language.

Differences between black rhino and white rhino

Black rhino – Diceros bicornis
  • black rhinos have a prehensile lip adapted for browsing
  • the prehensile lip allows for collecting leaves and smaller branches from trees and shrubs, much like elephants gather leaves and branches from trees before passing the fodder to the mouth – the prehensile lip on black rhinos are much smaller in relation to body size, than trunks are in relation to body size on elephants
  • due to their dietary requirements, black rhinos adapt well to wooded areas and prefer to avoid savanna plains with no vegetation
White rhino – Ceratotherium simum
  • white rhinos have broad, flat mouths adapted for grazing
  • the broad flat mouth allows for effectively grazing on grass
  • due to their dietary requirements, white rhinos adapt well to open savanna regions and prefer to avoid wooded areas where grass sources are limited

Trophy hunting black rhino in South Africa general information

The danger of hunting a charging Cape buffalo bull often gets more hunters smiling than any of the other members of the Big 5. Hunting black rhino really gets the adrenaline pumping when we sometimes get to within 10 yards from the quarry on a practice stalk without it knowing we are there.

Hunting black rhino in dense shrub and bush is one of the biggest challenges around. They are bulky animals with a severe eyesight problem. However, what they lack in sight is made up for by having the best hearing and smelling abilities in the bush. With a temper as short as a frogs’ tail.

Enjoy your hunt. Be sure. Be safe.


Tips for trophy hunting black rhino in South Africa

To walk-and-stalk when hunting black rhino is the only way of going about it. Solitary bulls are common and can be stalked with some ease with a wind that consistently blows in your favor. Archery hunting black rhino is illegal in South Africa.

Extreme caution should be applied when on the final approach. Any sudden wind shifts or movements will attract the attention of the black rhino and result in a tree climbing contest.


Black rhino hunting average shot distance

The average expected shot distance when hunting black rhino is 10 to 25 yards.


Best time of year for trophy hunting black rhino in South Africa

Due to the preferred closed and dense habitat of black rhino they can successfully be hunted towards the end of the year. These large animals (pachyderms: thick skinned animals) have awful eyesight but brilliant hearing and smelling abilities.

The best time of year to hunt black rhino is from September to mid November.

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