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One of Nature's Greatest Comebacks – Southern White Rhinoceros - Ceratotherium simum

The Southern White Rhinoceros or Square-lipped rhinoceros - Ceratotherium simum - is one of the five species of rhinoceros that still exist. It has a wide mouth used for grazing and is the most social of all rhino species. White Rhinoceroses are found in grassland and savannah habitat.


It is the world's largest land mammal after the three species of elephant. It has a massive body and large head, a short neck and broad chest. Weight in this animal typically ranges from 1,360 to 3,630 kg. On its snout it has two horn-like growths, one behind the other. These are made of solid Keratin. The front horn is larger. The White Rhinoceros also has a noticeable hump on the back of its neck. Each of the four stumpy feet has three toes. The color of the body ranges from yellowish brown to slate grey. Its only hair is the ear fringes and tail bristles. White Rhinos have a distinctive broad, straight mouth which is used for grazing. Its ears can move independently to pick up sounds but it depends most of all on smell. The olfactory passages which are responsible for smell are larger than their entire brain. Interestingly, the white rhinoceros has the widest set nostrils of any land based animal.


White Rhinoceroses produce sounds which include a panting contact call, grunts and snorts during courtship, squeals of distress, and deep bellows or growls when threatened.


Females reach sexual maturity at 6–7 years of age while males reach sexual maturity between 10–12 years of age. Gestation occurs around 16–18 months. A single calf is born and usually weighs between 40 and 65 kg (88 and 140 lb). Calves are unsteady for their first 2 to 3 days of life. When threatened, the baby will run in front of the mother, who is very protective of her calf and will fight for it vigorously. Weaning starts at 2 months, but the calf may continue suckling for over 12 months. The birth interval for the white rhino is between 2 and 3 years.

By the late 1800s, the southern white rhino was on the verge of extinction. Numbers were estimated to be as low as 50. Today, thanks to decades of work by conservationists and researchers, their numbers are above 17,000 and the southern white is considered the most abundant rhino in the world.

While they do live in the wild, their habitat is restricted to protected areas, parks and game reserves in Southern Africa.

A major threat

Poaching for their horns remains a grave risk for the southern white rhino.


These majestic animals can be seen on the following Aves Birding Tours / Safaris/Adventures: -

Aves Arid Birding Tour / Safari.

Aves Eastern Cape Birding Tour / Safari.

Aves Highlands / Tembe Birding Tour / Safari.

Aves KZN Birding Tour / Safari.

Aves North East Birding Tour / Safari.

Aves North West Birding Tour / Safari.

Aves Western Cape Birding Tour / Safari.

Aves West Coast Birding Tour / Safari.



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