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Safari Africa Animal Fact Sheet
Ceratotherium simum

Eastern and Southern Africa

A rhino's horn is not a true horn that is attached to the skull. It grows from the skin and is made up of keratin fibers, the same material found in hair and nails.

The white rhino is the largest species of land mammal after the elephant. As a species, the white rhino is the least endangered of the living kinds of rhino. Careful management in the Republic of South Africa has allowed the white rhino population to rise dramatically; approximately 80% of the white rhino population is in South Africa.

There are two distinct subspecies: northern white rhino and the southern white rhino. The white rhino is square-lipped- it lacks a prehensile "hook". This allows the rhino to eat a wide swath of the green, short grasses that grow in the open savannahs.

The term "white" comes from the Afrikaans word describing its mouth: weit, meaning "wide"; early English settlers in South Africa misinterpreted the "weit" for "white".

Unlike other rhino species, the white rhino is semi-gregarious; the females and sub-adults are rarely alone. The dominant male patrols the territory that the females and young pass through. Females in managed situations will reproduce better if they are in a group.

People of some cultures believe that rhino horn contains medicinal or curative properties. The medical aspects are not proven but are still the primary reason for the poaching of the species. Because of education and awareness to the plight of the rhino many conservation measures have been developed with varying degrees of success. They include: increased patrols by rangers, shoot-on-site policy for poaching, dehorning program, and relocation of rhinos to safer areas.

Economic sanctions (or the threat) against countries that continue to consume rhino horn have had the greatest impact in their regulatory policies. Many of these countries have increased jail time and amounts of fines for those involved in the illegal trade in rhino horn.

Habitat: Open savannahs and grasslands
Diet: Herbivorous
Status: "Near Threatened" IUCN
Approximate Dimensions of Adult:

Height at shoulder: 5 to 6'
Weight: 4000 - 6000 pounds

Lifespan: 25 -45 years
Reproduction & Offspring: Gestation averages 16 months.


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