Here’s a Riddle: What is a preposterous rhinoceros?
Answer: A gigantic, herbivorous, odd-toed, ungulate rhino!
(big) (plant-eating) (3-toed) (hooves)
Translation! A big, plant-eating rhinoceros with three toes on each hoof!
The Wonderful White Rhino
When we think of wild animals, rhinos are right up there in our fantasy world with elephants, giraffes, hippos and the big cats.
The Southern Whites of South Africa are the second largest of the land mammals, after the elephant. These harmless herbivores are happy to be home on the open range and savanna grassland habitats.
They must spend one-half of the day eating up to 80 pounds of veggies to sustain their huge bodies. Slowly moving along with their massive heads down, they graze on grass with their wide, square mouths.
Remember the other African rhino that is black and has pointed prehensile lips that can wrap around tree leaves?
African Rhinos: Black and White
Both species of African rhinos are shades of light to dark gray, due to their “wallowing” habits in cooling baths in muddy water holes.
An interesting historical possibility is that when the first European settlers in South Africa saw the white rhino species, they used the Dutch term ‘widje’ to describe his wide size and broad lips. The terms sounded like ‘white’, so the other pointed-mouth beast was called the ‘black one’, perhaps after seen drying from the dark mud of the wallows.
Wear Your Sneakers!
Although white rhino are big, they are not slow! They can run up to 31 miles per hour on their ‘three-toed hooves.”
Their sense of smell and hearing are good. But, with poor eyesight, they may charge anything that moves. And, if, unfortunately, it is you that is being chased, you may hear some disturbing noises behind you, like snorts, bellows, squeals and growling sounds. But, not to worry, rhino attacks recorded are only about 3-4 per year.
If you are strolling the African grassland savannas, you need to worry more about hippos and elephants that are far more aggressive than the peace-loving rhino.
The Great-Horned Rhinoceros
The African rhinos (and the hairy Sumatran rhino have two horns). The front horn can grow up to 5 ft. The horn is not made of bone, like elephant tusks. It is made of a tough keratin fiber, like hair and nails.
These horns are highly desirable for trophies and Asian folk medicine. The horn grows about three inches a year. If damaged, the horn can slowly grow back.
The White male rhino will use the horns for battle. ‘Momma’ has horns, too, and she’s not afraid to use them if you mess with her calf.
That little baby will stay with her for three years or until she has another calf.
Did You Know?
- Males can grow up to 4 tons and can grow twice as long as your bed!
- Rhinos can live 50 years in the wild
- The closest relative to the rhino is the ‘tapir’ and the horse
- Rhino families are called a ‘clash’ of rhinos
Sudan, the Last Male Northern White Rhinoceros
This 45-year old “gentle giant’ died quietly in March 2018, the last male of the Northern White species, leaving only two remaining females of the species. Sudan was tenderly cared for by his long-time devoted caretaker, Mohammed Doyo, on the Ol Pejeta Rhino Conservation ranch in Kenya, Africa.
A Baby White Rhino Named ‘Future’
Welcome little ‘Future’, the newest White rhino, born December, 2019 at The San Diego Safari zoo, which has produced an astounding ninety-nine white rhinos to the world!
The Southern White rhino is still listed as Near-Threatened (NT). But, with over 17,000 in the wild, the species are making a comeback in population from earlier populations which were down to 200 in the wild. This is due to stricter ‘poaching’ laws, and determined conservation agencies.
Today, 174 zoos in the world have 671 white rhinos in compassionate care, bringing public awareness of these lovable animals.
Zoos to the Rescue, Again
Rhinos are winning over poachers by birthing amazing numbers of new white rhino babies that outnumber the kills of the poachers.
Here are more rhino success stories around the world:
South Australia, Monarto Zoo. Moms, Uhura, and Umqali, and Dads, Satara and Ibutho have produced 6 calves in the last few years.
Satara and Umqali were sent from the Kruger National Park in South Africa.
Uhura was sent from Singapore Zoo in Southeast Asia. This shows the cooperation of zoos in the ‘dating game’ to match the perfect pair for the survival of rhinos.
Dortmund Zoo, Western Germany. October 2019. Mom, Shakina presented a hefty 110 pound male. In 2014, Shakina gave the world a female calf named Abebi, that was later sent to Kerkrade Zoo in the Netherlands.
Gulf Breeze Zoo, Gulf Breeze, Florida. May 2018. Little, 100-pounder female, Katana emerged triumphantly as the first-ever white rhino calf at this zoo dedicated to the conservation of white rhinos.
Toronto Zoo, Canada has produced five white rhinos up to the year 2017.
Singapore Zoo. Southeast Asia. December 2019. Thirty-four-year-old Mom Donsa had calf #12, a female. This zoo has produced 24 adorable white rhino babies.
Royal Burgers Zoo, Arnhem, Netherlands. January 2020. Kwanzaa, 20 years old Mom, has gifted the world her seventh calf, a male. Dad, Gilou, doing fine.
Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park, Tampa, Florida. January 2020. Kidogo has given birth to her fifth calf, a precious female.
It looks like 2020 will be a great year for the white rhino! Conservation efforts work!
Thanks, Conservation Kids for joining us in January, 2020 Rhino Month. Here’s some more fun things to do!
- Print out and let your parents sign your Rhino Appreciation Award
- Draw us a picture with the theme “Picture the World with Rhinos’. Send it to us so we can show your ‘Rhino Love’.
- Vote for your February Conservation Animal of the Month! What will it be?! Leave us your animal-idea in the comments section.