know what a white elephant is? It refers to a thing that is costly and
difficult to maintain and is of little or no utility value to the owner. Unlike
the white elephant, the white rhinoceros is not a metaphor. It is a real
wildlife species. Scientists have identified at least two subspecies of
white rhinoceros, namely, the Northern White Rhinoceros and the Southern
we move to what it might have looked like, its features and so on,
here’s an interesting explanation on how the species got its name. Some
wildlife experts say that the White Rhinoceros probably received its
common name thanks to a mistaken translation of the Boer word 'wijde' for
wide, which refers to the broad square lips of the species.
White Rhino ranges in color from yellowish brown to slate grey. It is
hairless, except for the ear fringes and tail bristles. It has two horns
and its front horn reaches an average of sixty centimeters in length; it
occasionally reaches a length of one hundred and fifty centimeters too.
White Rhinoceros can be distinguished from the Black Rhino, primarily by
the upper lip, which is square and not pointed, a more sloping and less
sharply defined forehead and a shoulder hump. Primarily inhabiting the
Savannah and woodlands interspersed with grassy openings, it appears to
thrive where there is thick bush cover, relatively flat terrain, water available
for drinking and wallowing and short grass for grazing.
experts also say that the White Rhino has the most complex social
structure among rhinos. They
form temporary associations of up to fourteen rhinos at a time. Females
and calves form smaller groups. Adult males generally occupy smaller
territories of one to three square kilometers, while adult females have
home ranges of six to twenty square kilometers, depending on the quality
of habitat. Subordinate males and females may wander freely through the
dominant male territory.
pairs form temporary associations for up to 20 days. Mating occurs
throughout the year, although peaks have been observed from October to
December in South Africa and from February to June in East Africa. The
gestation period is approximately sixteen months and there is usually a
gap of two to three years between calves.
species is globally threatened and has recently been classified as
“Vulnerable”. At the turn of the century, the southern subspecies was
considered extinct, but a few years later a small population of fewer than
100 animals was discovered in the Umfolozi-Hluhluwe region in Natal. This
population was protected and it has now grown to number around seven
northern subspecies is listed separately as “Endangered”. The Northern
White Rhinoceros declined from a
population of 1,100 in 1981 to a mere eleven in the year 1984. Under a
strict regime of protection and study, this subspecies had increased to a
total of thirty-two in the year 1993. White rhino population is said to be
growing in southern Africa because most White rhinos are confined to
heavily guarded sanctuaries.