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Baby black is first born at Howletts Wild Animal Park in its 40-year history

By Mark Duell for MailOnline

Published: 18:13 EST, 20 October 2015 | Updated: 18:17 EST, 20 October 2015

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It may seem a heavy burden for one so young, but experts say this little chap gives hope for the future of the black rhino.

He is the first of his kind to be born in the 40-year history of Howletts Wild Animal Park near Canterbury in Kent.

The calf, who was born to first-time mother Damara, is ‘doing well’ and keepers hailed his birth as a promising sign for the species' future.

Black rhino are on the critically endangered species list, with numbers in the wild having declined by more than 90 per cent since 1970.

Animal director Neil Spooner said: ‘His arrival means hope for the future of this critically endangered species. The birth went very well.’

Keepers said the rhino was starting to explore but his mother was keeping a watchful eye, and encouraging him back after short periods.

The Duke of Cambridge this week highlighted the decline in rhino numbers as China's president Xi Jinping starts his state visit to Britain.

He said the decline meant that children born this year, like his daughter Charlotte, will see the last wild rhinos before their 25th birthdays. 

New rhino: The calf, pictured with mother Damara, is ‘doing well’ and keepers hailed his birth as a promising sign for the species' future

New rhino: The calf, pictured with mother Damara, is ‘doing well’ and keepers hailed his birth as a promising sign for the species' future

Plodding along: He is the first of his kind to be born in the 40-year history of Howletts Wild Animal Park near Canterbury in Kent

Plodding along: He is the first of his kind to be born in the 40-year history of Howletts Wild Animal Park near Canterbury in Kent

Fears: Black rhino are on the critically endangered species list, with numbers in the wild having declined by 90 per cent since 1970

Fears: Black rhino are on the critically endangered species list, with numbers in the wild having declined by 90 per cent since 1970

Looking around: Keepers said the rhino was starting to explore but his mother was keeping a watchful eye, and encouraging him back

Looking around: Keepers said the rhino was starting to explore but his mother was keeping a watchful eye, and encouraging him back

Surroundings: The Duke of Cambridge has highlighted the decline in rhino numbers as China's president Xi Jinping starts his state visit

Surroundings: The Duke of Cambridge has highlighted the decline in rhino numbers as China's president Xi Jinping starts his state visit

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