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White Rhino

IUCN Red List:  Near Threatened
CITES:  Appendix I

The white rhino, along with the roughly equal-sized Greater one-horned (Indian) rhino,is the largest species of land mammal after the elephant. The white rhino is the least endangered of the living rhino species. Of its two distinct subspecies, the only populations of the Southern white rhino populations remain viable.The Northern white rhino is believed to be extinct in in its last known habitat in Garamba National Park due to poaching.


Current White Rhino Numbers and Distribution
There are currently approximately 20,405 white rhinos surviving (IUCN African Rhino Specialist Group, 2013).



  • The white rhino lives in Africa, in long and short-grass savannahs.
  • White rhinos are grazers. Its wide, square upper lip is adapted for feeding on grasses.
  • White rhinos can live to be 50 years of age.
  • Gestation lasts approximately 16 months, and mothers give birth to one calf every 2-3 years.
  • Females reach sexual maturity between 6 and 7 years of age; males mature between 7 and 10 years of age.
  • White rhinos are semi-social and territorial. Females and subadults generally are social, but bulls are typically solitary. Sometimes, satellite males may reside within one another’s territories.

Common Names

  • White rhinoceros is taken from the Afrikaans word describing its mouth: “wyd”, meaning "wide". Early English settlers in South Africa misinterpreted the "wyd" for "white".
  • White rhinos are also sometimes called the square-lipped rhinoceros. Its upper lip lacks the prehensile "hook" of some of the other rhino species.

Scientific Name and Origin
Ceratotherium simum

Ceratotherium from the Greek "cerato", meaning "horn" and "thorium", meaning "wild beast" and "simum" from the Greek simus, meaning "flat nosed."

Physical Characteristics

Weight: 4,000-6,000 lbs (1,800 - 2,700 kg) 
Height: 5 – 6 feet (1.5 – 1.8 m) tall at shoulder
Length: 12.5-15 feet (3.8 - 5m) length of head and body


White rhinos have two horns. The front (anterior) horn is larger and measures 37 - 40 inches (94 - 102 cm), (northern subspecies), 37 - 79 inches (94 - 201 cm) (southern subspecies). The rear (posterior) horn is smaller and measures up to 22 inches (55 cm) long.


Other Features: Relatively broad snout with a square lip