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White Rhino - Ceratotherium simum

The White Rhinoceros is a herbivorous grazer belonging to the order of the Perissodactyla and is the second most massive remaining land animal in the world. It is one of the two species of Rhinos native to Africa. Its current range is primarily Southern Africa. There are about 14,500 White Rhino still left in the wild, and their survival today portraits one of conservation succes stories as their numbers were less than 100 in 1895. In recent years the Northern Nile Rhino subspecies has been pushed to (the brink of) extinction due to poaching in Congo and the inaccesibility for conservation organisations due to the civil war. It is now believed that no rhinos remain in Garamba National park, but efforts are still being made to save this subspecies from captive stock.

White Rhino Facts


General information

  • Weight: 1,800 - 2,700 kg (4,000 – 6,000 lbs)
  • Height (at shoulder): 1,5 – 1,8 m (5 -6 ft)
  • Length (head and body): 3,8 – 5 m (12,5 – 15 ft)
  • Anterior Horn length: 0,94 – 1,02 m (37 in – 40 in)
  • Posterior Horn length: up to 0,55 m (up to 22 in)
  • Lifespan: 40 to 50 years
  • Characteristics: wide upper lip and a noticeable hump on the back of its neck.

White Rhino Behaviour

  • White Rhinos may reach speeds of 50 km/h (28 m/h)
  • White Rhinos are are semi-territorial and more social than the Black Rhino
  • Males are mainly solitary and territorial, sometimes satelite males share territories.
  • Female are more social, aswell as subadults.
  • White Rhinos graze during the morning and evening and sleep or wallow during the afternoon.

White Rhino Reproduction

  • Gestation period: around 16 months.
  • Birth intervals per calf: 2 to 3 years.
  • Female sexual maturity: at 6 to 7 years
  • Male sexual maturity: at 7 to 10 years
  • Newborn weaned: at 2 months (may continue suckling to over 12 months)

White Rhino Distribution

  • Pre 20th century numbers: 100
  • Curent numbers in wild: 14,500
  • Curent numbers in captivity: 777
  • Habitat: tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas and shrublands.
  • Historic Natural Range: Southern White Rhino subspecies in Southern Africa (Namibia, Botswana, South, Zimbabwe & Mozambique) and the Northern White subspecies in Central Africa (Northern Congo, Southern Sudan & Western Uganda)
  • Current Range: In several National Parks primarily located in Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe & Kenya.

White Rhino Diet

  • White Rhinos are grazers and primarily feed on grasses
  • White Rhinos can live up to 4 to 5 days without water.

Common Names

  • White Rhinoceros: Although its name suggests its colour to be white, the colour of the rhino is in fact greyish-brown. Most sources will tell you that the term white is derived from the Dutch 'wide', which would describe its wide upper lip or maybe wide spread occurence. There is however no proof of this as there is no reference to Wyd-Renoster or any other name of this kind in literature. It is therefore highly unlikely that the term 'White' in White Rhinoceros has been derived from a Dutch or Africaans word. The exact source of the white in White Rhino is still unknown. See Rookmaaker, L.C., 2003 for more theories.
  • Square-Lipped Rhinoceros: The wide upper lip of the White Rhino is adapted to grazing and is perfect fro tearing of grass.
  • Other names: view a list of White Rhino Vernacular Names

Scientific Name


The scientific name for the White Rhino is Ceratotherium simum. Ceratotherium being from the Greek cerato for “horn” and therium meaning “wild beast”. Simum is from the Greek simus meaning “flat nosed ”. Throughout history the White Rhino has been referred to using quite a lot of different scientific names. View a list of White Rhino Scientific names.


  • The Southern White Rhino (Ceratotherium simum simum) is the most numerous of all White Rhino subspecies.
  • The Northern White Rhino (Ceratotherium simum cottoni) is the rarest and most endangered subspecies, and probably extinct in the wild. The main difference with the Southern White Rhino is its larger horn, which can be up to 2 m long. This animal is now regarded as a separate species based on morphological and genetic data, see Nile Rhinoceros ((Ceratotherium cottoni().


Boras 1993
Katowice 2017 (4)
A white rhinoceros at the Chiang...
Vicky in Munster Zoo
Kralove 2007
Budapest Lisimba
Dvur #0373
Little Rock 2007
White rhino in Lesna
London 1978
Ellen Trout Zoo
Elongated horn of white rhino
Garamba Rhino Count
>> More Images

External Links

African Conservation (hits:377)
African Conservation Foundation works to preserve Africa's wild heritage by supporting and linking conservation initiatives throughout the continent as well as by conducting field projects.
WWF: White Rhino Info (hits:1495)
Extensive information by the World Wildlife Fund on the White Rhino. Covers physiology, threats, habitat and much more.

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