The white rhinoceros is the largest and most social of all rhinoceros species. It is found in Africa and has two subspecies, the southern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum simum), and the much rarer northern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum cottoni).
Scientifically known as Ceratotherium simum, white rhinos are the second-largest land mammals after the elephants. The female white rhinos tend to be smaller in size than males. A prominent feature of the white rhinos is that they are square-lipped. It is this feature that differentiates them from the black rhinos which are hooked-lipped. White rhinos are gray, hairless, and only feed on short grasses. They also have a conspicuous shoulder hump.
Where Do White Rhinos Live?
About 98.5% of the white rhino population is found in five countries of Africa, namely Namibia, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.
As the name suggests, Southern Africa is the home of the southern white rhinos. This subspecies made a comeback from the verge of extinction. The population of this species was estimated at around 17,480 animals in 2007.
The northern subspecies formerly had a wide range covering parts of Chad, DRC, CAR, Sudan, and Uganda. In the present day, however, this subspecies is nearly extinct. It is extinct in the wild. The last male northern white rhino died on March 19, 2018, at Ol Pejeta Wildlife Conservancy in northern Kenya. Only two females of the subspecies remain. They are kept under tight guard at the Conservancy.
In their wild, white rhinos live in savannah and grassland habitats. They are herbivore grazers that prefer feeding on the shortest grains.
Just like the black rhinos, white rhinos also face the challenge of poaching and habitat loss. However, they tend to be at greater risk as they are less aggressive than other rhino species which makes them more vulnerable to the poachers. China and Vietnam are primarily responsible for the poaching of these white rhinos. The horns of these animals are used to produce traditional medicines in these countries although no scientific proof of the effectiveness of such medicines has been found.