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White Rhino back from the brink

White Rhino back from the brink

Enjoying a treasured rhino sighting
Enjoying a treasured rhino sighting





Two species of rhino occur in Africa - the white rhino (Ceratotherium simum) and the black rhino (Diceros bicornis).

There is much speculation about why rhinos were named ‘black’ and ‘white’ since both species are actually grey in colour. The easiest way to distinguish between the two is by looking at the shape of their top lips.

The white rhino’s top lip is flat and wide and is suited to its grazing habits, while the black rhino has a pointed, slightly elongated top lip which is adapted to its browsing habits.

The white rhino is also a lot larger than the black; the white rhino is the second largest land mammal after the elephant, but unless you saw both rhino species standing together (unlikely) for size comparison, you would have no way to tell.

White rhino are more gregarious than black rhino and usually form small groups. Adult white rhino males have a territory, or range, of around 2.5km2 which they mark with dung piles. Females have a larger range and much of the male’s time is taken up with trying to prevent ‘his’ females from leaving his area and moving into a rival male’s territory.

In the late 19th century it was thought that white rhino were extinct, then a small herd of 100 animals was discovered in KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, and extensive conservation and management brought this beautiful animal back from the brink. Today an army of conservationists is dedicated to the protection of the white rhino, mainly on privately owned game ranches and sanctuaries where they are given 24 hour protection by armed game scouts.

One such private white rhino sanctuary can be found in Livingstone, Zambia, where tourists can ‘take a walk on the wild side’, walking through the African bush with these magnificent beasts.