Rhinos in Africa

African Rhinos

Scientific Name:

Black: Diceros bicornis

White: Ceratotherium simum

Weight:

Black: 1 to 1.5 tn. (2,000 to 3,000 lb.)

White: More than 2 tn. (4,000+ lb.)

Size:

Head and body: 11 to 13.75 feet; tail: 20 to 27.5 inches

Life span:

35 to 40 years

Diet:

Herbivorous

What is an African Rhino?

A rhinoceros, commonly abbreviated to rhino, is one of any five extant species of odd-toed ungulates in the family Rhinocerotidae, as well as any of the numerous extinct species therein. Two of the extant species are native to Africa, and three to Southern Asia. The term "rhinoceros" is often more broadly applied to now extinct species of the superfamily Rhinocerotoidea. Rhinos may look like prehistoric creatures, and they do date back millions of years to the Miocene era, but they are also mammals like us. There are two species of African rhinos, the white rhino and black rhino, and each is distinct in its own way. The white, or square-lipped, rhino derives its name from the Dutch word “weit,” meaning wide. It is actually gray in color and has a hump on its neck and a long face. The black, or hooked-lipped, rhino has a thick, hairless gray hide. Both rhinos have two horns.

Both black and white rhinoceroses are actually gray. They are different not in color but in lip shape. The black rhino has a pointed upper lip, while its white relative has a squared lip. The difference in lip shape is related to the animals' diets. Black rhinos are browsers that get most of their sustenance from eating trees and bushes. They use their lips to pluck leaves and fruit from the branches. White rhinos graze on grasses, walking with their enormous heads and squared lips lowered to the ground.

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A Mother African Rhino and a young offspring grazing

Where do African Rhinos Live?

The African rhino is divided into two species, the black rhino and the white rhino. White rhinos mainly live in South Africa, but they have also been reintroduced to Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe. Southern white rhinos have been introduced to Kenya, Zambia, and Cote d’Ivoire. The majority of the black rhino population—98%—is concentrated in four countries: South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Kenya. South Africa houses 40% of the total black rhino population. There are some black rhinos in the region spread between Cameroon and Kenya.

There are four subspecies of black rhino: South-central (Diceros bicornis minor), the most numerous, which once ranged from central Tanzania south through Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique to northern and eastern South Africa; South-western (Diceros bicornis occidentalis) which are better adapted to the arid and semi-arid savannas of Namibia, southern Angola, western Botswana and western South Africa; East African (Diceros bicornis michaeli), primarily in Tanzania; and West African (Diceros bicornis longipes) which was declared extinct in November 2011.[12] The native Tswanan name keitloa describes a South African variation of the black rhino in which the posterior horn is equal to or longer than the anterior horn

What are the Behaviours of African Rhino?

White rhinos live on Africa's grassy plains, where they sometimes gather in groups of as many as a dozen individuals. Females reproduce only every two and a half to five years. Their single calf does not live on its own until it is about three years old.

Under the hot African sun, white rhinos take cover by lying in the shade. Rhinos are also wallowers. They find a suitable water hole and roll in its mud, coating their skin with a natural bug repellent and sunblock. Rhinos have sharp hearing and a keen sense of smell. They may find one another by following the trail of scent each enormous animal leaves behind it on the landscape.

An image of White African Rhinos feeding
What do African Rhino eat?

The black rhino is a browser. Its triangular-shaped upper lip, which ends in a grasping point, is used to eat a large variety of vegetation—including leaves; buds; and shoots of plants, bushes, and trees. It can be found in various habitats that have dense, woody vegetation. The white rhino lives in savannas, which have water holes, mud wallows, shade trees, and the grasses they graze on.

Two African Rhinos resting in the green grasslands
8 Interesting Facts about African Rhino
  1. Rhinos are famous for their horns, and they were named for their signature feature. But the moniker isn’t super creative. The word rhinoceros is a literal mix of two Greek words that best describe how they look: rhino (nose) and ceros (horn)
  2. You might think that rhino horns are made of super tough bone, but it’s actually made up of the protein keratin—the same stuff that makes up human hair and fingernails—and is basically a compacted mass that grows throughout the rhino’s life. The longest rhino horn ever measured was just under 60 inches
  3. For the most part, rhinoceroses are solitary animals and pretty much avoid one another. But some species, particularly the white rhino, can live in groups, known as a “crash.”
  4. White rhinoceros are the third largest land mammal after the African and Asian elephants. The white rhinoceros is also the largest rhinoceros species and can weigh up to 6,000 pounds. Their heads alone can weight up to 2,000 pounds, and they’re typically between 5 and 6 feet tall.
  5. For their size, you’d suspect that they’re big meat eaters. But they’re vegetarians that can eat up to 100 pounds of food a day. Depending on the species, they eat leaves, fruit, grasses, stems, and twigs.
  6. You’d think that having a huge weapon right on your face would be an obvious instrument for battle, but some rhinos actually use their teeth when they need to in a fight. African species (the Black rhino and the White rhino) don’t have these long incisors and do fight with their horns.
  7. Rhinos can produce as much as 50 pounds of dung a day, according to the International Rhino Foundation. Their poop also plays a big role in marking their territory as each rhino’s poop has a unique smell, and male rhinos utilize it to keep others off their area. They can make between 20 to 30 piles to make sure that other rhinos know to stay away.
  8. Even though they live in some of the hottest and sunniest climates, their skin isn’t that well equipped to handle it. Rhinos can sunburn easily and are also susceptible to bad bug bites. To remedy this, rhinos often take mud baths to put a protective layer between their skin and the sun and pestering bugs.

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