White Rhino

(Ceratotherium simum)
IUCN RED LIST: Near Threatened

The white rhino is the least endangered of the living rhino species with a population of around 20,400.

The white rhino, along with the roughly equal-sized Greater one-horned rhino, is the largest species of land mammal after the elephant. It has two distinct subspecies, but only populations of the Southern white rhino remain viable. The Northern white rhino is extinct in the wild due to poaching.

  • 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.
  • White rhinos are semi-social and territorial. Females and subadults generally are social, but bulls are typically solitary.
Current White Rhino Numbers and Distribution

There are currently approximately 20,405 white rhinos surviving (IUCN African Rhino Specialist Group, 2013).

CITES: Appendix I

Species map
Historical Range indicator Historical range Current Range indicator Current range Unconfirmed occurence indicator Unconfirmed Occurance
Common Names

White rhinoceros is taken from the Afrikaans word describing its mouth: “wyd”, meaning "wide". Early English settlers misinterpreted the "wyd" for "white".

It is also sometimes called the square-lipped rhinoceros.

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 larger front horn measures 37 - 79 inches (94 - 201 cm). The rear horn measures up to 22 inches (55 cm) long.

Other Features

Relatively broad snout with a square lip.