Nile Rhino - Ceratotherium cottoni
The Nile rhinoceros
Groves et al. (1) recently argued on morphological, anatomical, genetical, ecological and theoretical grounds that the white rhinoceros of Central Africa should be elevated from subspecific to specific status, to be called Ceratotherium cottoni (Lydekker, 1908). It is likely that the result of these investigations will be challenged, as there are many implications for systematics as well as conservation. However, with the renewed status of the animal, it can no longer be differentiated from the southern form as ‘Northern White Rhinoceros’ (NWR). Although the name ‘white’ rhinoceros is both inappropriate and unexplained (2), it should remain in use for the species in Southern Africa. NWR therefore needs a new vernacular designation. The original describer, Lydekker (3) used ‘Lado Rhinoceros’ from the place where the type-specimen was shot. Later authors have used ‘Cross’s rhinoceros’ after the hunter of this first specimen, Percy Powell-Cotton. Both these names are very dated.
I propose to follow the example of Heller4 in the first full-length monograph on the square-mouthed rhinoceros found in Uganda, Congo and Sudan, and call it Nile Rhinoceros.
Dr Kees Rookmaaker
1 Groves, C.P.; Fernando, P.; Robovsky, J. 2010. The sixth rhino: a taxonomic re-assessment of the critically endangered northern white rhinoceros. PLoS One 5 (4) e9703: 1-15
2 Rookmaaker, L.C. 2003. Why the name of the white rhinoceros is not appropriate. Pachyderm 34: 88-93
3 Lydekker, R. 1908. The white rhinoceros. Field February 22: 319
4 Heller, E. 1913. The white rhinoceros. Smith. Misc. Coll. 61 (1): 1-56