Burshell Zebra in the Mist
Burshell Zebra in the Mist
Vultures Finishing up a Male Kudu
Vultures Finishing up a Male Kudu

White Rhinoceros

White Rhinoceros
Setswana Name: 
Scientific Name: 
Ceratotherium simum

Shoulder Height: 1,8 m

Tail: 1,0 m

Mass: (bull) 2 000-2 300 kg, (cow) 1 400-1 600 kg

Record front horn length: (southern Africa) 1,58 m

Identification pointers: Large size; broad, square muzzle; hump on neck; large, pointed ears; two horns on face.


The White Rhinoceros, also known as the Square-lipped Rhinoceros, is much larger than the Black or Hook-lipped Rhinoceros. The skin colour is grey but this is often influenced by the colour of the mud and dust in which it rolls. A large, distinctive hump is present on the neck. The head is long and carried low, frequently only a few centimetres above the ground, and terminates in a broad square muzzle - hence the common name. There are two horns on the face, the front one usually being the longer. The ears are large and pointed.


This species shows a preference for short-grassed areas, with thick bush cover and water. Where adequate food and water is available it will occupy a wide range of open woodland associations. In Botswana, rhino can be found in Khama Rhino Sanctuary and Mokolodi Game Reserve.


The White Rhinoceros is much more sociable than the Black Rhinoceros. Territorial bulls occupy clearly defined territories which they will defend against neighbouring bulls; subordinate bulls may be allowed to remain within a territory if they remain submissive. The home range of cows may overlap with the territories of several territorial bulls but when a cow is receptive for mating the bull will attempt to keep her within his area.

Family groups usually number between 2 and 5 individuals, although larger numbers may come together for short periods. The home ranges and territories are only left when water is not readily available. When they move to watering points they follow the same paths each time. Feeding takes place during the cooler morning and afternoon hours but they are also active at night. Bulls have a number of fixed latrine sites within their territories.


White Rhinoceros are grazers, with a preference for short grass. A reliable source of drinking water is an essential requirement. Reproduction: Calves, weighing about 40 kg, are dropped at any time of the year after a gestation period of approximately 480 days. The cow moves away from the rhinoceros group to give birth and remains separated with her new-born calf for several days. In contrast to the Black Rhinoceros, the calf of the White Rhinoceros walks in front of the mother.


Their breeding period is throughout the whole year and usually the female raise one young.