The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

White Rhino / Square-lipped Rhino

Afrikaans name: Wit Renoster

White Rhinos relaxing in the sand in the early morning

White or Square-lipped Rhino

Photo © Steven Herbert

Ceratotherium simum

Interesting facts about White Rhinos

Another, more appropriate, name for the White Rhino is Square-lipped Rhino. The Black Rhino would then be Hook-lipped Rhino.

There is a lot of speculation about where the name of White Rhino comes from. One theory is that it is derived from the Dutch word 'Wijd' which means wide and not white.

Males can reach up to 4 metres in length. Females are a bit smaller. At the shoulder they can be up to 1.8 metres in height. Males weigh around 2,300 kg.

White Rhinos have two horns. The front one is the longest and can, in extreme cases, be up to 1.5 metres in length.

The preferred habitat of the White Rhino is savanna or open grassland. Their main food is grass.

Rhinos are well-known for the dung middens they make. These are spots in their range where they will drop their dung. These middens can often be seen on or alongside roads in game reserves. Males have well-defined territories which they will defend from other males.

White Rhino need a lot of water and males will allow other males to pass through their territories to go and drink or wallow in the mud.

White Rhinos may be seen by themselves or in small herds.

A trio of White Rhino at Tala Game Reserve

Photo © Steven Herbert

White Rhino and Cattle Egrets

Photo © Steven Herbert

Above - What does it take for a tired White Rhino to get some peace and quiet? Photographers in noisy diesel bakkies and pesky Cattle Egrets are interrupting my sleep! Cattle Egrets are sometimes called Tickbirds because they eat ticks off large mammals. The Cattle Egrets also keep close to larger mammals to catch any prey items flushed out by the larger animal.


How do you tell Black and White Rhino apart?

White Rhino

Photo © Steven Herbert

Firstly, don't go by colour. Ignore the white and the black bits of their name! Rather look at the head shape. The White Rhino (above) has a log heavy-looking head that hangs down (remember it eats grass). The mouth is also square. The Black Rhino (below) has a smaller head that is held higher. The mouth is pointed.

Black Rhino

Photo © Steven Herbert


References and further reading

Wild Ways - 2nd Edition - Author: Peter Apps - Published: 2000 - Page: 127

Wildlife of Southern Africa - Author: Martin Withers and David Hosking - Published: 2011 - Page: 218

The Mammal Guide of Southern Africa - 2nd Edition - Author: Burger Cillie - Published: 2011 - Page: 102

The Rough Guide to Game Parks of South Africa - Author: P. Briggs - Published: 2020 - Page: 340

Tracks and Tracking in Southern Africa - Author: Louis Liebenberg - Published: 2000 - Page: 90

Questions and Answers - Endangered Wildlife of Southern Africa - Author: John Comrie-Greig - Published: 1992 - Page: 31

Questions and Answers - Mammals of Southern Africa - Author: Deirdre Richards - Published: 1990 - Page: 7

South African Animals in the Wild - Author: Anthony Bannister - Published: 1985 - Page: 59

Signs of the Wild - 5th Edition - Author: Clive Walker - Published: 1996 - Page: 130

Signs of the Wild - 3rd Edition - Author: Clive Walker - Published: 1986 - Page: 133

Readers Digest Illustrated Guide to Southern Africa - 4th edition - Author: - Published: 1986 - Page: 355

Mammals of Southern Africa - Author: Burger Cillie - Published: 1987 - Page: 69

Maberlys Mammals of Southern Africa - Revised edition - Author: Richard Goss - Published: 1986 - Page: 193

Pollinators, Predators and Parasites - Author: C. Scholtz, J. Scholtz, H. De Klerk - Published: 2021 - Page: 245

Mammals of the Kruger and other National Parks - Author: The National Parks Board - Published: 1980 - Page: 74

Land Mammals of Southern Africa - A field guide - Author: Reay HN Smithers - Published: 1986 - Page: 139

Game Ranger in your Backpack - Author: Megan Emmett and Sean Pattrick - Published: 2013 - Page: 32

go! - Kruger - Author: - Published: 2017 - Page: 13

Hit the Road - 2nd Edition - Author: MapStudio - Published: 2018 - Page: 147

Illustrated Guide to the Game Parks and Nature Reserves of SA - 2nd edn - Author: Readers Digest - Published: 1991 - Page: 414

Kruger National Park Questions and Answers - Author: P.F. Fourie - Published: 1987 - Page: 198

Kruger National Park, Visitors Map 1996 - Author: - Published: 1996 - Page: 2

Animals of the Kruger National Park - Author: G. de Graaff - Published: 1987 - Page: 7

Chris and Tilde Stuarts Field Guide to the Mammals of Southern Africa - 1st Edit - Author: Chris and Tilde Stuart - Published: 1988 - Page: 174

First Field Guide to Animal Tracks of Southern Africa - Author: Louis Liebenberg - Published: 2003 - Page: 40

Field Guide to the Mammals of the Kruger National Park - Author: U. de V. Pienaar et al. - Published: 1987 - Page: 100

Field Guide to the Mammals of Southern Africa - 3rd Edition - Author: Chris and Tilde Stuart - Published: 2001 - Page: 174

Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Chris and Tilde Stuart - Published: 1997 - Page: 78

Field Guide to the Cradle of Humankind - Author: B. Hilton-Barber & Prof. L. R. Berger - Published: 2004 - Page: 158

An Introduction to the Larger Mammals of Southern Africa - Author: Joanna Dalton - Published: 1987 - Page: 165

African Wildlife - A photographic safari - Author: Nigel and Wendy Dennis - Published: 1999 - Page: 28

A Field Guide to the Tracks & Signs of Southern and East African Wildlife - 3rd - Author: Chris and Tilde Stuart - Published: 2000 - Page: 104

A Field Guide to the Mammals of Africa including Madagascar - Author: Theodor Haltenorth and Helmut Diller - Published: 1980 - Page: 117


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List of South African Mammals

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