Unusual features/differences from similar
Southern Africa's second largest land mammal.
is broad, the lips wide and square whereas the upper lip is pointed in Black
Rhinoceros. The front
the base of the first horn forms a straight line but it is round in the Black
Rhinoceros. The ears have
small points and a sparse fringe of hair but those of the Black
Rhinoceros are rounded with a fringe of thick hair.
Visible Male/Female Differences
Males have a thick fold of skin running down between
the backs of the hind legs. Horns are longer and thinner in cows. Females have a pair of nipples between their hind legs.
Habitat and Distribution
Requires grassland, thick cover and water in close proximity and prefers flat or gently
A selective grazer with a preference for short, fresh growth. Sometimes eats soil to obtain
A single calf weighing 40 kg is born at any time of year after a gestation
of 16 months. Calves are weaned at 12-18 months, sometimes as late as 2
years, and stay with the mother for 2-3 years. They are sexually mature at 4-5
years. Males establish a territory and mate after 12 years. The sex is ratio is
173 males to 100 females born.
Expected lifespan is 40-45 years . Calves
very occasionally fall prey to lions and spotted
hyenas. Cows give birth in heavy cover and calves are not fully mobile for three
during which time they remain hidden with the mother grazing nearby.
Behavior and Habits
Spends about 50% of the time feeding. Active at any time of the day or night, but tends to avoid the midday heat and cold
weather by lying in cover. They drink water every day if available but can
days between drinks in dry periods. Whit rhinos love to wallow in water
and mud to cool down and kill remove parasites. They rub on trees, rocks and termite mounds.
"Scratchpoles" develop a polish from long use. White rhino eyesight is not good acute but hearing and smell are very sensitive.
Females with young live in overlapping home ranges of 6-8 square km
but have larger ranges if conditions are bad. White Rhinoceros calves walk in front of
the mother but calves walk behind the mother in the Black
Rhinoceros. Mature bulls are solitary. Territories cover 1-11
square km which they scent-mark by spraying urine backwards onto bushes as well
borders with dung deposited in middens. After defecating on the midden the bull
kicks the dung around vigorously. Young males kick the midden only weakly and
females do not kick it at all. Adjacent territories may share a midden. It has
been found that white rhino middens
may also be used by Black Rhinoceroses.
meet on their common boundary, rub
their horns on the ground an stand head to head pushing sideways against each other's
horns. Territorial bulls in territories without water will leave every 3-4 days to drink
through other territorial bulls' areas. When confronted by the territorial bull they squeal and shriek,
their ears back to demonstrate their submission. This placates the territorial
bull which then allows the thirsty traveler to proceed. When not on their own territories, bulls urinate in the same way as subordinates
which is not spraying the urine backwards between the legs.
White rhino fights are usually over territory or females
and involve horn fencing with vicious stabs to the body which can be fatal. Half
of all male deaths is due to fighting. The 25 mm thick skin provides
protection during fights. Bulls that are defeated by challengers may be allowed to
keep on living on their lost territories if they continue to behave submissively. White Rhino are more even-tempered than
the Black Rhinoceros. White rhino cows with calves
are fiercely protective. They can charge at 40 km/h.
Snorting and snarling with the ears back
is a signal to keep the distance, panting is an invitation to move closer. Squealing and shrieking
are submissive signals but also occur during fights and when a bull is herding a female
into his territory. Calves also squeal when frightened.
Dung and Field sign
The back of the White rhino track forms a "W"
rhino). There is no indentation at the back
of the Black Rhinoceros track. Dung is dark,
deposited in middens
and contain undigested grass fragments. Black Rhinoceros
dung contains twigs. Mud
smears on trees, termite mounds and rocks; polished rubbing spots.