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African rhinoceros

A cursed horn

Who are african rhinoceros ?

Scientific name

Diceros bicornis
(black rhinoceros)

Ceratotherium simum
(white rhinoceros)


(Grass, branches,…)




Black rhinoceros :
700 – 1 400 kg

White rhinoceros :
1 400 – 3 600 kg


1.30-1.90 m
at the shoulder

Life span

40-50 years

Black or white ?

Unlike their names suggest, you can’t identify a black rhinoceros or a white rhinoceros by its color. The difference between them lies more in their mouth. While black rhinoceroses have a pointed upper lip, white rhinoceroses have a wide and square mouth. If you still have a doubt, white rhinoceroses have a hump over their neck and they tend to walk with their head down while their cousins always stand tall !

Black rhinoceroses are solitary guys. Males establish dominance even if they don’t own a territory. They tolerate each other in high density areas but otherwise they behave very agressively.
They live in bushy areas and woodlands, where they feel safe from other individuals. When it comes to food, they have a sweet tooth on twigs, low branches, leaves or even roots they dig out with their horns.

White rhinoceroses are the opposite and much more sociable. Although genrally lonely, they can be observed in small groups. Dominant males each have their own territories which they mark by pooping (in middens), urinating and scratching on tree trunks. They patrol them regularly and fiercely defend them. As long as other males remain submissive, they tolerate them in their territories !
White rhinoceroses like to live in the savannah where grass is short but with some thick bush area in order to hide or take cover. Regarding food, their life is all about grazing.

40 km/h

This is the speed a rhinoceros can reach while charging. Mind the impact !

Female rhinoceroses do have a slightly different behaviour. They live in vast areas that overlap and they move throughout the territories of different males. Their gestation period is roughly 1 year and 3 months. Once those 15 months are over, they give birth to a lone calf. It will stay with its mother untile age 2 to 4.


And another good way of differenciating white rhinoceroses from black rhinoceroses is their offspring behaviour. Generally, white rhinoceroses calves walk in front of their mothers while black rhinoceroses calves walk behind, or side to side.


Where to see african rhinoceroses ?

This is an interactive map, don’t hesitate to mouse over it.

Countries where there are african rhinoceroses in the wild

Countries where we have already observed african rhinoceroses in the wild

How to observe african rhinoceroses ?

Coming across an african rhinoceros is not that easy. Those mammals are active both during the day and at night but just like most of the other savannah inhabitants, they suffer from heat. Therefore, during the hootest hours of the day, they like to lay in thick vegetation where it’s cooler.
That’s why you will have more chances to observe rhinoceroses early in the morning or late in the afternoon when they’re feeding close to waterholes. They actually never live far from them.

Our tip : Middens (poop piles) are a great clue that a dominant male lives in the area. And if you happen to be able to do a bush walk with a ranger/guide, look for three fingered footprints ! They are the signature of our rhino friends.

Are african rhinoceroses in danger ?

Estimation of the number of white rhinoceros individuals living in the wild :

Estimation of the number of black rhinoceros individuals living in the wild :</strong

What are the causes ?

The first and major cause of decline is poaching. These past years, the black market demand for rhinoceros horns has skyrocketed, resulting in the increase of poaching.

On the one hand, there is China and Vietnam. They think horns have medicinal virtues. Already used in traditonal chinese medicine, horns are today said to cure cancer, even if no solid scientific study has been conducted yet.

On the other hand, Middle-East countries use rhinoceros horns to make handles for ceremonial daggers.

The second cause of decline is civil wars that take place in several african countries. In these difficult situations, horns are an easy way for inhabitants to buy weapons and make money to face poverty. It is important to bear in mind that in such complex political contexts, governments only allocate very little funds to nature and wildlife conservation.


One kilogram of rhinoceros horn is more expensive than one kilogram of gold ! But rhinoceros horn is only made out of keratine, which is the same material your nails or hair are made of !

Black rhinoceroses are a critically endangered species. While numerous conservation efforts are made in several regions (it can go as far as having rangers with Kalashnikovs protecting some indiviuals 24/7 !) have allowed to maintain white rhinoceros populations stable, they’re not enough to compensate the decrease in the number of black rhinoceroses.

Today, a rhinoceros is killed every eight hours. And with a gestation period of more than a year, it is very difficult to reverse the current trend.

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