The African Rhino: Everything You Need to Know

Rhinos have existed for thousands of years and play an essential role in the ecosystems around them, especially since they are herbivores and are considered to be important grazers because of their huge appetite. Not only do they help shape the African landscape, but they also maintain an important environmental balance.

Rhinos have become a sought-after “travel experience”, especially because the species are a part of Africa’s Big Five and are now critically endangered. The main concerns for the species right now are to protect them from poachers and to make sure that their habitats remain protected, for the benefit of future generations, ecotourism and wildlife preservation.

Black Rhino Vs. White Rhino

You can be misled by the name and wonder, “How come I only know of grey rhinos?” However, technically, there are no white or black rhinos in the wild. Both of the existing African rhinos are grey in skin colour.

The curve of their lips is the simplest and most popular method to tell the two rhino species apart, although there are additional characteristics. Let’s look at the fundamental distinctions between the two species.

White rhinos are often much bigger than black rhinos. Their bodies are longer, imposing, and barrel-shaped. In contrast, black rhinos are shorter, sturdier, and more compact. An adult white rhino may weigh up to 2,300 kg, but a black rhino seldom weighs more than 1,000 kg. In addition, white rhinos have relatively flat backs with a bulge towards the bottom half of their bodies, as opposed to black rhinos, who have a deep arch in their back.

The form of a rhino’s mouth and lips, though, is the most noticeable distinction. What hasn’t been acknowledged is that the disparity is caused by varied eating choices.

White rhinos are grazers; therefore, their flat and large lips are ideal. They function as “lawnmowers,” having powerful muscles that grab and shred the grass for more effective eating.

southern white rhino at mosi-os-tunya, African bush camps

Southern White Rhinoceros

Black rhinos, on the other hand, black rhinos prefer shrubs, leaves, and branches. As a result, their lips have developed into a pointed lips (shaped like a hook) to allow them to grasp the trees. When you look at a rhino’s ears, you’ll see that nature doesn’t leave anything to chance.

White rhinos have poor vision and a head that is usually pointing downward. As a result, keeping the ears protected is critical for this species. White rhinos have tubular and long ears that operate as miniature satellites to keep them informed of their surroundings.

Black Rhinoceros

Because black rhinos have stronger eyesight than white rhinos, they are less reliant on a single sense. As a result, black rhinos’ ears are smaller and more rounded.

The size of their horns is the final physical feature that separates the white rhino from the black rhino. A white rhino’s horn is normally longer in the front and considerably shorter in the back. Black rhinos, on the other hand, have shorter frontal horns than white rhinos, but the second horn is somewhat shorter. As a result, the two horns of black rhinos are more comparable in length.


The majority of wild African rhinos are currently restricted to four countries: South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Kenya. Black and white rhinos share the same environment. However, white rhinos are more commonly seen in grasslands, whilst black rhinos are more commonly found in dense vegetation. That is, of course, due to their eating choices.


White rhinos are the more sociable of the two, generally seen in groups of seven or more, but black rhinos normally live alone, although they are occasionally sighted in groups of up to five, which is exceptional.

Black rhino calves are frequently observed strolling behind their mothers, but white rhino calves move in front of them. While grazing, the white rhino’s lowered head aids in keeping an eye on its young.


The social systems of white rhinos are complex, whereas black rhinos are more solitary. The white rhino may be seen in groups of up to 14, most of which are females and their calves.
Adult male white rhinos are extremely territorial, marking their territory with scraped dung mounds. Male territories are roughly one square kilometre in size, whereas female territories can be seven times greater. Breeding females are barred from leaving a dominant male’s area, which is meticulously designated and monitored by the dominant male. When fighting for a certain breeding female, the males will engage in violent combat, sometimes inflicting major wounds on each other and occasionally resulting in death.

The black rhino has long been thought to be more aggressive and inquisitive than the white rhino. It has been suggested that their habitat differences have a significant role in their behaviour. Black rhinos are extremely difficult to notice in dense forest, and if frightened, they will charge the threat. We can’t see them because of the dense greenery, and when we can, you’re probably far closer than you should be. This is an issue since you are now in the animal’s comfort zone, and breaking into that zone is viewed as a danger.

Threats to Survival

Rhino horn is essential in Traditional Chinese Medicine, but it is becoming increasingly popular as a status symbol to show wealth and success. Poaching is becoming a danger in all rhino range nations, but Southern Africa is being intensively targeted since it is home to the majority of rhinos in the world. 

Land clearance for human development, agricultural production, and logging is continually growing. This is a huge danger to all species since wildlife requires room to grow and develop. This is a significant impediment to rhino population recovery and growth.

The disparity between a map of the current distribution of the five rhino species and one from around 1800 is startling.

Many nations have lost their rhino populations entirely, owing in part to habitat loss: Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Chad, Central African Republic, Sudan in Africa, and Pakistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Sarawak in Asia.

How many black and white rhinos remain on the planet?

Both rhinos are listed as endangered. While white rhinos are “near threatened,” with just around 10.082 mature species left in the world, black rhinos are “critically endangered,” with only 3.142 adult species surviving.

Where can I find black and white rhinoceros?

Both species are found only on the African continent. Kenya, South Africa, Namibia, and Zimbabwe are home to the southern white rhino. However, there are just two female northern white rhinos left in the world, both of which dwell in Kenya.

Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, and Namibia are home to black rhinos.


How much do you know about these mysterious creatures?