Black or White

The hunting of rhinos has never been as intensive as nowadays. Presently (figures 2009) in South Africa ALONE, an average of no less that 12 rhinos is being poached every month. These are enormous numbers for such a small population. That is why we appreciate a lot spotting rhinos during our game drives.

Two species of rhinoceroses exist. Popular wordings are `white` and `black` rhinos. This has nothing to do with the colour of their skin or horn but is no more than a wrong translation to English of the African word `wyd`, which means wide or broad. The white rhino has a wide mouth and its official name is `square-lipped rhino`. In English, the other species, the black one, is officially called ‘hook-lipped rhino’.

The white rhino is the biggest of the two and an adult bull can weigh more than 2000 kgs. Females generally weigh max. 1600 kgs. The black rhino is a lot smaller and weighs no more than 1100 kgs. Both species have two horns on the head: a big and a small one. White rhinos are generally much more social than the black ones. Although from both species the bulls are territorial, the white specimen will tolerate other bulls in his territory as long as the intruder behaves humbly. The black rhino is much less socialized and usually attacks immediately, usually with bloody consequences.

Both animals outline their territory with their faeces and regularly patrol the borders of their territory. Females are not territorial. Bulls, that meet a female that is willing to mate, do their utmost to keep that lady in their territory. Many people have problems to distinguish a white from a black rhino. The white one has got a wide and straight mouth(lip) and the black one has a rounded lip. Also take a close look at the surroundings. Rhinos that dwell in overgrown areas are mostly black ones. The white rhino often prefers open grassland. Why ? because the white rhino is a grazer and the black one loves leaves and young branches.

Various guides told us that the calves of white rhinos walk in front of their mother and those of the black rhino generally behind mummy or next to her. Although we’ve seen this various times with the white rhino, we dare not to confirm that this is always the case.

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