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Scientific Name: 
Ceratotherium simum
Species class: 
Near Threatened
Distribution Map: 

The White Rhinoceros – also known as the square-lipped Rhino – has a distinctive square, blunt lip, an adaptation for grazing.

White Rhinos are large animals, males weighing up to 2300kgs and females up to 1700kg. Their skin is grey but varies with soil colour. They are almost hairless. Their sight is poor but sense of hearing and smell very well developed.

In contrast to the Black Rhino, the White Rhino is mild by nature. It is also the most sociable of all the Rhino species. White Rhinos are the second largest living land mammals, behind Elephants.

Conservation information: 

White Rhinos, like all Rhino species are threatened due to poaching by humans for their horn, which is sold in powdered form for medicinal purposes in Asia. The horn is also used to make handles for daggers which are status symbols in some Middle Eastern countries. Habitat destruction is also a common problem for the White Rhino as it reduces living space and food supply.


Formerly distributed over much of the perennial grasslands of tropical Africa, these Rhinos are now limited to a few areas in south eastern Africa, south of the Zambezi and also in north-east Africa, west of the Nile river. These are both drier savannah areas.


White Rhinos are sociable animals and are hard to breed in human care if not held in the correct groupings. Males are able to mate at 7-8 years and females from 6-8 years. The gestation period is 16 months and a single birth is the general rule. White Rhinos have a life span of up to 45 years in human care.


Essentially grazers, they feed walking slowly forward, the jaws munching off the grass close to the ground. Squared lipped Rhinos feed during the morning and evening, resting under a tree during the day. At Taronga Western Plains Zoo their diet consists mainly of meadow hay and lucerne.

General Information

The name “White” Rhino does not refer to the colour of the animal but is believed to have derived from the Afrikaans word “Widj”, meaning wide.

White Rhinos are threatened in the wild due to poaching for their horn. The horn is made of Keratin fibres. The horn is a much sought after commodity for dagger handles and potions.

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