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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


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References and further reading

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

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

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

Chris and Tilde Stuart's Field Guide to the Mammals of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Chris and Tilde Stuart - Year Published: 1988 - Page: 174

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

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

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

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

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

Kruger National Park, Visitor's Map - Author: - Year Published: 1996 - Page: 2

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

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

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

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

Reader's Digest Illustrated Guide to Southern Africa - 4th edition - Author: - Year Published: 1986 - Page: 355

Reader's Digest Illustrated Guide to the Game Parks and Nature Reserves of Southern Africa - 2nd edi - Author: Editor - Alan Duggan - Year Published: 1991 - Page: 414

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

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

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

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

List of South African Mammals

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