20 Jul 2017
White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum)
Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis)
In Southern Africa we have two species of the rhinocerotidea family, the White Rhino and Black Rhino. Black Rhino are slightly smaller (130 to 180cm in height) and weigh between 800 and 1400kgs, compared to the White Rhino who stand anywhere from 160 to 185cm at the shoulder and weigh between 1700 to 2300kgs. Both species of rhino adapt well to a variety of habitats including dense bush and grasslands, as long as there is a source of water close by in order to drink and wallow. Another difference between the species is their feeding habits. White Rhinos are grazers feeding on grass, preferably short new grass. Black Rhinos on the other hand are browsers that eat leaves, twigs and fruit. While Rhino calves are in danger of falling prey to predators such as hyena and lion, but currently the biggest threat to all rhinos is humans and their poaching for monetary gain.
Wildlife ACT’s Work with Rhino
RESERVES : Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, Mkhuze, Tembe Elephant Park, Somkhanda Game Reserve and Zululand Rhino Reserve.
- Initiating, operating and funding local and international rhino monitoring projects
- Developing and implementing anti-poaching measures and technology in the field
- Purchasing and fitting the right equipment needed to effectively monitor rhino. These include transmitter implants and ankle collars
- Delivering time and expertise to provide adequate management, capture, transport and reintroduction of rhino to protected areas
- This includes assisting WWF with the Black Rhino Range Expansion Project by finding suitable release points for Black Rhino, the training of new black rhino monitors, the purchase and fitment of tracking equipment on the individual rhino to be released and the post-release monitoring work while the rhino settle into their new homes
- Working on demand reduction policies / initiatives with groups such as TRAFFIC, and campaigning to stop the exploitation of wildlife (includes the dehorming of rhino populations to reduce the risk of poaching)
- Helping rural communities living alongside protected wildlife areas to develop a love and respect for rhinos, provide them with reasons to protect the species, and educate them about the realities of poaching and benefits of tourism
Rhino Poaching Crises
Fueled by a growing demand for rhino horn in primarily China and Vietnam and driven by international criminal syndicates, rhinos around the world are under threat of extinction. During 2012, both the Western black rhino and Vietnamese population of Javan rhino were declared extinct, and there are less than six Northern white rhino left in Africa. South Africa is now one of the last countries to have a significant population of black and white rhinos left in the wild – one of the reasons why South Africa is bearing the brunt of what can be described as one of the worst global wildlife conservation crises of the past 100 years.
Project Rhino KZN
Wildlife ACT is a founding member of Project Rhino KZN which is an association of like-minded organizations facilitating rhino conservation interventions aimed at eliminating rhino poaching and securing the white and black rhino populations of KwaZulu-Natal for the benefit of current and future generations. The members of Project Rhino KZN recognize that the work in conserving and protecting rhinos from the threat of poaching is symbolic of the broader threat faced by all wildlife, and that all wildlife will benefit from actions taken by Project Rhino KZN.
White rhino: Near threatened, the species is at risk, but is not as yet considered vulnerable to extinction in the wild.
Black rhino: Critically Endangered, the species is considered to be at an extremely high risk of becoming extinct in the wild.
Interesting Rhino Facts
- Rhino are the second largest land mammal after the elephant and live anywhere from 40 to 50 years
- The name rhinoceros means ‘nose horn’ (often shortened to rhino)
- A group of rhinoceros is called a ‘herd’ or a ‘crash’
- There are 5 different rhino species, 3 native to southern Asia and 2 native to Africa. Three of these 5 species are now critically endangered
- Rhinoceros horns are made from a protein called keratin, the same substance that fingernails and hair are made of
- Rhinos have been around for over 50 million years. The Sumatran rhino is the closest living relative of the ancient (extinct) woolly rhino
- Rhinos use middens (piles of dung) to communicate. Each rhino’s smell is unique and identifies its owner as well as age and sex. Rhino middens are also used to mark territory