Conservation

Common name White rhino

Scientific name Ceratotherium simum

Status IUCN Near threatened

Distribution South Africa

Population 19,600-21,000 Individuals

Trend Decreasing

Threats Poaching and habitat loss

Distribution, habits, and status

There were once two subspecies of the white rhino, the northern (C. s. cottoni) and the southern (C.s. simum). The southern white rhino is the largest of the two African species. It is characterized as having two horns and a pronounced hump, square mouth, and prehensile lips. Unfortunately, the northern subspecies became extinct in 2020. The southern white rhino is found mainly in South Africa. Reintroduced populations are in Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland, Uganda, and Kenya. They are found in grasslands, savannas, tropical, and subtropical scrublands. They are solitary, or semi-social, with groups of up to six individuals, and only get together during the breeding season. Females are seen together in times of heat and are extremely territorial. The white rhino is a great success story of recovery. It was on the verge of extinction, with less than 100 individuals at the beginning of the 20th century. Successful conservation had managed to increase the population to over 20,000 individuals. Unfortunately, in recent decades, poaching for its horns has become a major conservation drawback. The main threat they face is poaching, due to the high demand for their horn. Their horn is used in traditional medicine, as an ornament, or for the manufacturing of various articles. The destruction and fragmentation of their habitat for the conversion to agricultural activities is another great problem. It is considered near-threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and in Appendix II of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Most individuals are found in sanctuaries and conservation areas. Monitoring has provided important information for conservation. There are groups at local, national, and international levels dedicated to the protection of the rhinoceros.