White Rhino are the second largest land mammal on earth.
Both Black and White Rhino are actually grey but are distinguishable by the shape of their lips. While White Rhino are known for their square lips, Black Rhinos' are more pointed. This distinction is due to their difference in diet since Black Rhino feed on bush and leaves whereas White Rhino graze upon the grassland.
Both species sometimes form groups of up to several dozens of individuals, mainly females with calves. Females and their calves can occupy a range of up to seven times further than the males, who prefer to protect a smaller territory marked with dung piles. However, breeding females won't be able to leave a dominant male’s territory, which is marked and patrolled by its owner on a regular basis.
Males can often compete for a mate, taking part in aggressive conflicts that can sometimes inflict serious wounds.
Though these beautiful creatures are hard of sight, they have a keen sense of smell and hearing. They can even find one another through the scents each one leaves behind as they go throughout the savannah.
Rhino populations can be linked to the populations of other herbivores on the savannah which subsequently affects the predator populations. Rhinos are even linked to the spread and intensity of wildfires.
White Rhino have been praised as a global conservation success story. After being reduced to between 20-50 individuals at KwaZulu-Natal South Africa in the 19th century, the population has soared to approximately 20,000 individuals alive today across the African continent (1).
However, South Africa still holds 93.2% of the global wild White Rhino population (1) and the remaining populations occur across a strikingly discontinuous range (2). Up until 2005, the threat to this species from poaching was relatively minimal resulting in the population recovery we have seen over the last century.
However, poaching levels have increased dramatically in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Kenya in recent years with poaching reaching its worst in two decades in 2015 (3). This success story is at risk of inverting unless urgent work is done to stem the kill rate of this species.
Project Rhino works together with Care for Wild, International Anti-Poaching Foundation, Animals Saving Animals and Saving the Survivors to employ a variety of committed and trained conservation professionals to form one collaborative effort aimed at saving the Southern White Rhino. The goals of the project are to save rhino who would otherwise die as a result of poaching and to use this rescued group to re-populate areas where rhino no longer exist. We also aim to expand the species' range and, by doing so, improve their overall chance of survival.
To do this, our team and our partners are on standby 24/7, ready for when the call goes out that there is an injured rhino or orphaned calf. After being rescued, these survivors are taken to a secure sanctuary where they are rehabilitated, protected, and cared for until they are ready for release back into the wild. We then arrange for their transfer to small or medium-sized reservations where our protection is more effective. We try to commit to their protection from the moment they first come into our carewhen they first come into our care through the rest of their lives thereafter.
"The question is, are we happy to suppose that our grandchildren may never be able to see an elephant except in a picture book?”
- Sir David Attenborough
Every bit of support we get is vital to our work protecting these species and ensuring their long-term survival.
1) Emslie, R. 2012. Ceratotherium simum. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T4185A16980466. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2012.RLTS.T4185A16980466.en. Downloaded on 17 October 2017.
2) Emslie, R.H. and Knight, M.H., 2014. Update on African Rhino Status and Poaching Trends from IUCN SSC African Rhino Specialist Group (AfRSG). In IUCN Report for 65th CITES Standing Committee Meeting.
3) South Africa reports small decrease in rhino poaching, but Africa-wide 2015 the worst on record. TRAFFIC journal entry. Published January 21 2016 13:13. Accessed September 22 2017.