5 Species of Rhinos

Rhino Basics

There are five species of rhino that still survive in the world today. Two of the species come from Africa and three from Asia but all of them have one thing in common – their very existence in our world is under threat, thanks mainly to a massive increase in poaching.

These pages are designed to share some basic information and some interesting facts about each of the species. Click on the links below for more information on each of the rhino species.

Facts common to all species of rhino:

  • Rhino horn is made of keratin, the same substance that makes up human hair and fingernails
  • The collective term for a group of rhinos is a ‘crash’ of rhinos
  • All rhinos are herbivores (meaning they do not eat meat)
  • All species of rhino can weigh over a tonne
  • All 5 species of rhino have an excellent sense of hearing and smell but very poor sight 
  • Rhino info courtesy of helpinrhinos.org


White Rhino

The white rhino is one of the two rhino species found in Africa. Despite its name the White rhino is not actually white at all, its skin is grey in colour. There are many different theories as to where the term ‘white’ came from, but the most common one is that it is derived from the Afrikaans word for ‘wide’, describing the white rhinos wide mouth and upper lip. The white rhino is also known as the square lipped rhino.

The White rhino is a grazer and can often be found grazing on grass in the open plains. They need to feed on a daily basis but can survive for 4 to 5 days without water.

Populations of White rhino have recovered from an all time low of around 100 in 1895 to the current wild population of around 20,170. However, an increase in rhino poaching since 2008 is once again threatening the total population.

General white rhino facts:

Scientific Name:

Ceratotherium simum

Sub-species

Southern White rhino:

Ceratotherium simum simum

Northern White rhino:

Ceratotherium simum cottoni

Average Weight:

1,800 to 2,700 kg

Height at shoulder:

1.5 to 1.8 meters (5 to 6 ft)

Length (head & body):

3.8 to 5 meters (12.5 to 15 ft)

Front horn length:

94cm to 101cm (although it can reach up to 203cm)

Rear horn length:

56cm

Lifespan:

Typically 35 to 45 years

Have been known to live up to 50 years

Speed:

Up to 50km per hour (28mph)

Social Behaviour:

Females often live in a group, known as a ‘crash’. Males are solitary

IUCN conservation status:

Near Threatened

Reproduction

Gestation:

16 months

Birth intervals per calf:

2 to 3 years

Female sexual maturity:

6 to 7 years

Male sexual maturity:

7 to 10 years

Calves weaned:

1 year

Distribution

Wild Population:

20,170

Range:

South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Tanzania and Uganda

Black Rhino

The Black rhino is one of the two rhino species found in Africa. In the same way that the White rhino is not white, the Black rhino is not actually black. Its skin is more of a grey colour. There are a number of theories as to why the Black rhino is called ‘black’ but two of the most common are that the upper lip has a type of beak formation and this has been translated to ‘black’ and perhaps the more common theory is that is that the English called it black as it was opposite to white!  The black rhino is also known as the hook lipped rhino.

The black rhino is a browser and is often found in thick bush. Far more shy, secretive and aggressive than the white rhino, the black rhino can be more difficult to track and spot.

Populations of black rhino have been decimated over recent years. It is thought that as recently as 1970 there were as many as 65,000 black rhinos in the wild. The estimated population today is less than 5,000.

General black rhino facts:

Scientific Name:

Diceros bicornis

Sub-species

Eastern black rhino:

Diceros bicornis michaeli

Southwestern black rhino:

Diceros bicornis bicornis

Southern central black rhino:

Diceros bicornis minor

Average Weight:

800kg to 1,350kg

Height at shoulder:

1.4 to 1.7 meters (4.5 to 5.5 ft)

Length (head & body):

3 to 3.8 meters (10 to 12.5 ft)

Front horn length:

54cm to 134cm

Rear horn length:

2.5cm to 56cm

Lifespan:

Between 30 and 40 years

Speed:

Up to 50km per hour (28mph)

Social Behaviour:

Solitary

IUCN conservation status:

Critically Endangered

Reproduction

Gestation:

15 to 16 months

Birth intervals per calf:

2.5 to 4 years

Female sexual maturity:

4 to 7 years

Male sexual maturity:

7 to 10 years

Calves weaned:

1 year

Distribution

Wild Population:

4,880

Range:

Namibia, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe

Indian Rhino

Also known as the Greater one horned rhino, the Greater One Horned rhino is one of the three rhino species found in Asia. Like their African cousin, the white rhino, the Greater One Horned rhino has enjoyed a boost to their population in recent years. It is estimated that as few as 200 individuals existed in the wild in the early 1900’s. Thanks to a concerted conservation effort their current population is thought to be around 3,333.

The Greater One Horned rhino is a grazer and can often be found in grasslands and wetlands. They will often spend up to 60% of the day wallowing in water and are quite accustomed to feeding under water.

General Greater One Horned Rhino facts:

Scientific Name:

Rhinoceros unicornis

Average Weight:

1,800 to 2,700 kg

Height at shoulder:

1.75 to 2 meters (5.75 to 6.5 ft)

Length (head & body):

3 to 3.8 meters (10 to 12.5 ft)

Horn length:

20cm to 60cm

Lifespan:

40 to 50 years

Speed:

Up to 40km per hour (25mph)

Social Behaviour:

Females often live in a group, known as a ‘crash’. Males are solitary

IUCN conservation status:

Vulnerable

Reproduction

Gestation:

15 to 16 months

Birth intervals per calf:

1 to 3 years

Female sexual maturity:

5 to 7 years

Male sexual maturity:

10 years

Calves weaned:

18 months

Distribution

Wild Population:

2,850

Range:

India and Nepal

Sumatran Rhino

The Sumatran rhino is one of the three rhino species found in Asia. Their population is said to have declined by about 50% since the late 1990’s. Their decline, like all other species of rhino, is due to poaching for their horn but the Sumatran rhino is also suffering due to loss of habitat. Their natural habitat is being destroyed and developed for palm oil plantations.

Unfortunately for the Sumatran rhino, their habitat is very close to China, one of the main destinations, along with Vietnam, for creating a demand for rhino horn.

The Sumatran rhino is a browser and some of their favourite food is leaves, plant tips, twigs and fruits.

The Sumatran is the smallest and hairiest of all the surviving rhinos.  It is said to be the closest living relative to the now extinct woolly rhino.

General Sumatranrhino facts:

Scientific Name:

Diceohinus sumatrensis

Sub-species

Wetsren Sumatran rhino:

Diceohinus sumatrensis sumatrensis

Eastern Sumatran rhino             (aka Borneo rhino):

Diceohinus sumatrensis harrissoni

Northern Sumatran rhino (possibly extinct):

Diceohinus sumatrensis lasiotis

Average Weight:

600kg to 950kg

Height at shoulder:

1 to 1.5 meters (3 to 5 ft)

Length (head & body):

2 to 3 meters (6.5 to 9.5 ft)

Front horn length:

25cm to 78cm

Rear horn length:

7.5cm

Lifespan:

30 to 45 years

Speed:

Up to 40km per hour (28mph)

Social Behaviour:

Solitary

IUCN conservation status:

Critically Endangered

Reproduction

Gestation:

15 to 16 months

Birth intervals per calf:

3 to 4 years

Female sexual maturity:

6 to 7 years

Male sexual maturity:

10 years

Calves weaned:

16 to 18 months

Distribution

Wild Population:

Less than 100

Range:

Indonesia and Malaysia

Javan Rhino

The Javan rhino is one of the three rhino species found in Asia. They are the most endangered of all the five species of rhino with only as few 50 thought to still survive in the wild today. Extinction for the Javan rhino is a very real possibility.

Protection of the last remaining population at Ujung Kulon National Park in Indonesia is having a good degree of success with no poaching incidents reported since 2005. It is believed only the male of the species has a single horn with the females not carrying any horn.

The Javan rhino spends large periods of the day wallowing in water holes and mud baths. Their long upper lip is very distinctive and allows the Javan rhino to browse on trees, twigs and leaves, although they do also graze on open grassland too.

General Javan rhino facts:

Scientific Name:

Rhinoceros sondaicus

Sub-species

Indonesian Javan rhino:

Rhinoceros sondaicus sondaicus

Vietnamese Javan rhino:

(extinct since 2011)

Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus

Average Weight:

900 to 2,300kg

Height at shoulder:

1.5 to 1.7 meters (5 to 5.5 ft)

Length (head & body):

2 to 4 meters (6 to 11.5 ft)

Horn length:

25cm

Lifespan:

30 to 45 years

Speed:

Up to 48km per hour (30mph)

Social Behaviour:

Solitary

IUCN conservation status:

Critically Endnagered

Reproduction

Gestation:

16 months

Birth intervals per calf:

2 to 3 years

Female sexual maturity:

4 to 5 years

Male sexual maturity:

6 years

Calves weaned:

2 year

Distribution

Wild Population:

63

Range:

Indonesia