Rhinoceroses are considered by many experts in biology to be one of the oldest land mammal species in the world. For millenniums rhinoceroses have been striving in the wild as their only predators are humans, or homo sapiens. However, over the past hundred years or so they have been under attack by humans who poach them for their valuable horns. Their struggle for survival has been a result of human activities such as: hunting, poaching, colonization, and habitat destruction. The white rhinoceros, which is also known as the square-lipped rhino, is under the greatest threat of extinction as a result of these human activities. The white rhinoceros uses its square-shaped lips to graze for grass in the grasslands of Africa. They are considered vegetarians in the wild and have only been known to eat meat when they are held in captivity. Similar to cows, the white rhino does not stick to a specific eating schedule but instead prefers to graze for food throughout the day. Wild white rhinoceroses are found exclusively on the continent of
Africa. Specifically, the white rhinoceros is native to the countries of Kenya, South
Africa, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is incorrectly assumed by many people that the white rhinoceros is actually the color white. Instead, the white rhinoceros is actually a gray color and its name comes from the language Afrikaans. The Afrikaans word “weit” translates to “wide” in English and refers to the white rhinoceroses wide, or square shaped lips. The white rhino is not only the largest species of rhinoceros in the world; it is one of the largest land animals on the planet. With males weighing in close to
5,500 pounds and females weighing 4,500 pounds, the white rhinoceros is truly a massive creature. The biggest noticeable difference between white rhinoceroses and black rhinoceroses is in the shape of their lips. The black rhino has lips that are more pointed and cater to their diet of trees and bushes. This contrasts to the white rhino, which has square lips that are designed for eating grass and low-lying vegetation. Some other differences are the white rhinoceroses more prominent shoulder bumps, and longer skulls.
The white rhinoceros is also considered by experts to be the most social of all rhino species. They have been known to live in large numbers with some reports of more than twenty white rhinos living together in the wild. In addition to being considered the most social of all rhinos, they have also been called the most intelligent species of rhinos.
White rhinoceroses have a great sense of smell and hearing. Unfortunately, what white rhinos gain in hearing and smell, they lack in vision. It has been said that white rhinos cannot detect a motionless human that is located one hundred feet from the rhino. This helps to explain why rhinoceroses are so prone to being poached when living in the wild.
In the wild, white rhinoceroses have a lifetime of approximately forty years. There are two different species of white rhinoceroses in the world: the Northern white rhinoceros and the Southern white rhinoceros.
Of all the species of rhinoceroses in the world, the Northern white rhinoceros is under the greatest threat of extinction with only five currently remaining. Of the five
remaining four are female and one is male. The Northern white rhino first faced extinction when they were first listed as endangered under the Endangered Species
Conservation Act of 1969. The title of endangered species, unfortunately, did not help and their population quickly dropped to fifteen by the year 1984. By the year 2006 there were no more Northern white rhinos left in the wild. The sudden loss of population that the Northern white rhinoceros has faced can be attributed mostly to habitat destruction and poaching, both of which have increased in the past fifty years.
Similar to the Northern white rhinoceros, the Southern white rhinoceros has faced extinction in recent history. In fact, in