High density of herbivore populations can lead to intense foraging competition and depletion of food consequently lowering diet quality and population performance. We tested for the effects of the density of eastern black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis michaeli) in nine in situ populations of 0.01–0.7 individuals per km2 density range on the quality of their diet while controlling for plant available moisture and plant available nutrients. We used faecal calcium, phosphorus, copper and zinc concentrations as proxy indices for dietary quality from 473 fresh faecal samples obtained from 77 adult animals in situ, after determining a positive faeces-diet mineral correlation in feeding trials with black rhinoceros in zoos. Some populations surpassed 70%–80% of their estimated maximum stocking densities expected to cause impact on forage. However, we did not find significant correlation between rhino population density and dietary quality, as measured via faecal mineral nutrient content. This suggests that black rhinoceros may have sufficient behavioural plasticity to adjust their diet to cover their nutritional requirements when density increases. Instead, 1-month lagged plant available moisture, reflecting precipitation over the 4 weeks preceding each sampling effort, significantly explained the mineral concentrations in the faeces. By contrast, plant available nutrients had no effect.