White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum)
What do White Rhinos look like?
The White Rhino, also known as the square-lipped rhinoceros, is a graviportal (large animal physically adapted for moving slowly over land) mammal. It is the second-largest land mammal after the Elephant and can grow to be between 67” (171cm) and 77” (183cm) in height. Males can weigh between 4497 pounds (2040kg) and 4982 pounds (2260kg) while the females weigh an average of around 3527 pounds (1600kg). A rhino head is similar in appearance to that of a turtle if it is viewed from the front. Their puffy eyes are located low on the cheek and are surrounded by wrinkly skin. White Rhinos also have bluntly pointed ears, where Black Rhinos have more rounded ears. The horn of a Rhinoceros grows on top of its head with the longer horn at the tip of the nose and the smaller horn more or less above the eyes. A White Rhino's skin color is between grey and yellow-brown. They are hairless animals, apart from the hair that grows on the tips of their ears and the ends of their tails. These mammals are four-legged mammals with the front legs used to support the massive weight of these animals while the hind legs serve the purpose of being the Rhino's main propelling force.
How long do White Rhinos live?
The average expected life span of a White Rhinoceros is between 35 and 50 years.
Where are White Rhinos found?
White Rhinos were originally widely distributed in Northern and Southern Africa. The Southern population was almost wiped out at the beginning of the 20th century, except for just over a hundred that were still alive in Kwazulu-Natal in South Africa. The Northern population is now regarded as extinct since the last known male, who was known by the name Sudan, passed away on the 19th of March 2018. There is a silver lining of hope for this sub-species though as there are still 2 females remaining and plans are in place to try and In Vitro Fertilize them. Today the Southern White Rhino can only be found in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, with their numbers rapidly decreasing due to poaching.
How many White Rhinos are left?
- Northern White Rhino 2
- Southern White Rhino 17200 - 18900
What do Rhinos eat?
The White Rhino is possibly the largest pure grazer that ever lived with their diet consisting mostly of short, fresh grass.
Do Rhinos live in groups or alone?
Female White Rhinos and their calves will always live in pairs. They can form groups with other females and their calves which can consist of up to 6 White Rhinos that will permanently be together. They can also form temporary groups of up to 12 members. Territorial males are solitary and will only be seen with other Rhinos to either reproduce or to defend their territory against rival males.
How long are White Rhinos pregnant for?
The female White Rhino will give birth after being pregnant for around 16 months. Females usually give birth for the first time at the age of 6½ to 7 years.
Between 2007 and 2014 Rhino poaching in South Africa increased by 9,000% with more than 2 White Rhinos being killed every day in 2018. This increase in poaching can possibly be tied to South Africa's weakening economy and people becoming more and more desperate to make money. A rhino horn is literally worth more than its weight in gold on Asian black markets. At its peak in 2015, 1349 White Rhinos were poached in Africa. If one divides the current population of White Rhinos left (19000) by the average number of Rhinos poached annually over the last 5 years (1160), one comes to the conclusion that White Rhinos could be extinct within 16 years.
Interesting facts about White Rhinos
- The average length of a rhino horn is 23 inches (60cm).
- White Rhinos weigh twice as much as Black Rhinos.
- Rhinos can reach speeds of up to 24mph (40kph).
- Rhinos defend themselves by pressing their hindquarters together and facing with their horns pointing towards the attacker.
- A single calf is born every 2 to 4 years.
- Adults and calves make a squealing sound when they interact with one another.
- Rhinos put more pressure on the inside edges of their feet. Most of the pressure is felt by their toes, in a similar way to humans.
- White Rhinos walk with their feet slightly outwards, almost like ducks.
- White Rhinos can go 2 - 4 days without drinking if water is scarce.
- A chirping sound is made when fleeing from an aggressor.
- Calves begin grazing at 2 months old and weaning happens when they are 1 year old.
- In March 2017 the Thoiry Zoo, located in France, was broken into by poachers. A Southern White Rhinoceros named Vince was found shot dead in his enclosure; the poachers had removed one of his horns and had attempted to remove his second horn. This is believed to be the first time a Rhinoceros had been killed in a European zoo.