White rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum)

White rhinoceros

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Fast facts

Status Near Threatened

Size Head to body 340-420cm, shoulder height 150-180cm

Weight 1350kg to 3500kg. Males are heavier and larger than females.

Gestation 16 months

Young 1

Life span Up to 50 years in captivity

What do I eat?

White rhinos are grazers and have a wide, flat lower lip so they can eat short grasses. They spend about half of the day grazing.  White rhinos can go for several days without drinking.

Where do I live?

White Rhinos are found in grasslands and savannah in Southern Africa. Most white rhinos (98.8%) are in South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Kenya.


White rhinos usually first breed at 6 or 7 years of age. The gestation period is about 16 months. A single calf is usually born, but twins occur very occasionally.


Rhinos aren’t generally threatened by predators because of their large size, but calves and young rhinos are sometimes killed by lions, hyenas and occasionally crocodiles. Mothers will stay close to their calves to guard them.  


The white rhino is a conservation success story. Their numbers have increased from less than 100 in 1900 to over 20,000 today. This success is due to an intensive protection and translocation programme.  However, rhinos are still under threat. In recent years there has been a massive increase in poaching, as demand for rhino horn has increased.  Many rhinos are now in protected areas so it is easier to try to protect them from poachers. 

Did you know?

The white rhino is thought to have got its name through the mistranslation of the Afrikaans name for wide, ‘wijd’, which describes the wide upper lip.

Rhinos have excellent hearing and can swivel each ear independently.

White rhinos have two horns. The front horn is normally the larger one, and usually grows to a length of about 90cm, but the record length is 150cm!

Rhinoceros means “nose horn” in Greek.


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