White or Square-lipped Rhinoceros [Ceratotherium simum]
The White Rhino is the third largest land mammal. Massive, stocky, and with a reputation of being not quite as aggressive as the Black Rhino. The two distinctive horns are in fact very densely packed fibers, and materially not really horns. The record horn length is 1.58 m. Bulls, weighing up to 2 000 kg, are larger than cows which weigh up to 1 800 kg. Bulls are 1.8 m at the shoulders. The grey skin is almost hairless. They have a square-shaped, wide mouth. White Rhinos have a hump on the neck. The penis points backward and testes are located abdominally.
The White Rhino is strictly a grazer. Favouring short grass, but will feed on taller grass when short grass is not available. The wide mouth enables adequate intake with each plug harvested with the upper and lower lips.
Even though most conceptions take place during the wet season, this huge mammal is not a strict seasonal breeder. Calves are born early in the dry season after a gestation period of 16 months, and stays with their mothers for a period of two to three years until she gives birth to her next calving. Cows start breeding at about eight years and bulls reach sexual maturity at 10-12 years. During mating, sexual activity can last more than an hour.
In spite of their bulk and short stubby legs, White Rhino can run remarkably fast, but only for very short distances. Dominant territorial bulls occupy mutually exclusive areas of two to five square kilometers, but one or more subordinate bulls may share the territory. Female ranges may overlap those of several bull territories. A territorial bull will attempt to confine a receptive cow to his territory and will join her for five to ten days prior to mating.
Where they are found
Formerly widely distributed throughout the bushveld regions of South Africa. In the 19th century, it was exterminated by hunters, except in KwaZulu-Natal’s Umfolozi region. Although now thriving where it has been re-introduced into parts of its former region, it still suffers from poaching.
The Black Rhino is the original member of the Big five but due to the scarcity of the Black Rhino, the White Rhino now finds itself as one of Africa’s tourist industry elite. There is very little difference in colour between the Black and the White Rhino, the name for the White Rhino stemming from the Dutch term ‘wyd’ which refers to the mouth. This name was thought to be white. The White Rhino is somewhat larger than the Black Rhino.