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Rhino Resource Center: Rhino Forums > Rhino Species > Nile Rhino > Sixth Rhino

Posted by: Kees Apr 30 2010, 10:07 AM
In April 2010, Colin Groves, Prithiviraj Fernando and Jan Robowsky cooperated in the publication of a pivotal paper on the sixth rhinoceros. After reviewing a series of morphological, genetical and ecological data, they conclude that the taxon hitherto separated as the Northern white rhinoceros on subspecific level should actually be elevated to species status. Hence there are now six species of rhinoceros, the new one known scientifically as Ceratotherium cottoni Lydekker, 1908.
Given the fact that no white rhinos have been found in historical times anywhere between the northern white rhino (in West Nile of Uganda and Congo) and the southern white rhino (in Zimbabwe and Namibia), the conclusion is perhaps not surprising. It is still hard to explain why these two taxa are as similar to each other in many respects as they are known to be.
Personally I believe that it is now time to move away from calling the taxa southern and northern white rhino. Historically, they have also been called Burchell's and Cotton's rhinoceroses, from their respective 'discoverers'. These names may no longer be appropriate. I wonder if anybody can suggest good popular names for these two kinds of African rhinoceros?

The link is here:

Posted by: rhishja May 11 2010, 07:26 PM
Dr. Rookmaaker -

What a fascinating and compelling study!

Currently, our website and other materials reference five rhino species. If it is time to move forward, then we would like to do so.

When would you suggest it is appropriate to modify educational resources from "the five rhino species" to "the six rhino species"?

And, will RRC be updating to six rhino species as well?

Kind regards,


Posted by: Tom May 20 2010, 06:12 PM
Doesn't this have repercussions for the whole 'last chance for the northern white' project in Ol Pejeta, Kenya though?

They are trying to save the 'subspecies' northern by interbreeding them with the other 'subspecies' southern.

Doesn't the fact that they are in fact two distinct species change this course of action? They can still preserve the northern genes if they manage to breed, but any way you look at it, the northern species will be gone forever...

It's like breeding lowland gorillas with mountain gorillas then...

Posted by: rhishja May 20 2010, 06:41 PM
Hi Tom -

Indeed, I am curious about the implications for the NWR x SWR breeding as well, in light of the "sixth rhino".

Ideally, the favorable environment will entice the NWR to breed with each other and the world will have pure NWR calves. It is my understanding from reviewing the project's information, however, that any NWR genes (even hybrid) are better than none at all.

I wonder if the "sixth rhino" will be universally accepted? I suppose the groups that opposed the NWR project in the first place would be eager to accept the "new" species and continue to oppose the NWR project on the additional grounds of species x species vs. subspecies x subspecies.

I am still curious about "officially" updating our information and materials from "the five species of rhino" to "the six species of rhino" ...

The FAQs on the NWR project website discuss hybrids:

Posted by: Tom May 23 2010, 10:27 PM

I agree. Any NWR genes are better than none at all. Let's hope that at least some pure NWR calves are born in Kenya.

A while ago there was a report that there were NWR sightings in Sudan. Does anybody have more news about that?

And are they still searching for the last 4 NWR in Garamba? It is feared that they are extinct in the wild, but every possible NWR they could find could mean a possible future for the species.

Are they still actively trying to locate NWR in the wild in Congo or Sudan? If any wild animals could be found, captured ans translocated to Ol Pejeta, maybe they could have an all NWR breeding group there.

I know that I'm dreaming out loud now, but hey, if there still is a glimmer of hope...?

Posted by: rhishja May 27 2010, 05:11 PM
Hi Tom -

It doesn't look promising for the NWR in the wild. But we can still dream wink.gif

There is occasional chatter on social media about NWR search expeditions, possible sightings, etc. ...

From the IRF website:

"In 2005, a planned emergency translocation of five NWR from Garamba National Park to a sanctuary in Kenya became ensnared by political and local and national divisions and subsequently was cancelled.

After intensive engagement in Garamba National Park for more than a decade, the deteriorating operational and rhino status in the area, combined with exhausted financial resources, compelled the IRF to close its program there in 2005."

Posted by: rhishja Jun 8 2010, 11:20 PM
Hi Tom -

The latest on the Northern white rhino is that the breeding plan will begin with hybrids (NWR x SWR), which will later be crossed back with NWR.

Check it out:

Posted by: Grem Apr 3 2011, 09:50 PM
I'm confused. Is there actually a sixth species of rhino, like has it been official? And if so, how is it going to be accepted? I'm still in middle school so... It's interesting but complicated.

Posted by: saborationline Oct 31 2019, 08:52 AM
great post