In Focus – Rhinoceros

Status: Critically Endangered

Geographic Region: Africa and Asia

Meaning of name: Ancient Greek – Nose Habitat: Open savannas to deep forest  
Threats: Poaching

There are five species of the rhinoceros (rhino) living in the wild, across two continents. Africa has two species and possibly the most recognisable, the white and black rhino. The white rhino has 2 sub species. The Southern white rhino is the most prolific of all the rhino species and there is also the Northern white rhino. The black rhino did have four sub species at the start of 2013. The Western black rhino was declared extinct in November 2013, although it had not been seen since 2006. The other 3 sub species are the South Western, South Central and East African rhino.

The white rhino is actually grey, and has two horns with the front horn dominating. They are the largest of all the rhino species and have been known to get as heavy as 4,500 kg. The black rhino is the same color as the white rhino. They also have two horns with the front horn being slightly longer than the back horn. The black rhino is significantly smaller than the white rhino.

Southern white rhino

Asia has three species, the Indian, Javan and Sumatran rhino.  The Indian rhino is also known as the one–horned rhino (three guesses why) –  yes they only have one horn.

The Javan rhino is one of the most endangered mammals on earth today. There may only be 40 left in the wild. And the Sumatran rhino is not in a much better condition with only 275 left.

Although an adult rhino does not have any natural predators they are being hunted at incredible rates for their horns. In 2011, 448 rhinos were killed in South Africa alone.

Below are the approximate numbers of each species left in the wild as of November 2013.


White Rhino –       20,170

Black Rhino –         4,880

Indian Rhino –        2,575

Sumatran Rhino –     275

Javan Rhino –             40


Stu’s Zoo Pick for the Rhino

Unfortunately I don’t think zoos can do a lot to save these beautiful animals. Breeding programs will only slow down the inevitable. Poaching is such an out of control problem that the solution can only lay at the feet of the individual governments and their global supporters. Sanctuaries, rangers and laws however won’t stop the ivory trade, and until this is dealt with, the rhino will always be on the critically endangered list, or worse – Extinct !

The following are photos of some of the rhinos I have seen whilst visiting zoos.  
Two southern white rhinos – Werribee Open Range Zoo


Two southern white rhinos staying warm in winter – Bronx Zoo


Southern white rhino – Perth Zoo


Southern white rhino and her baby – Australia Zoo

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