How do you tell a northern white from a southern white rhino? Apart from existing in different parts of Africa, these separate species of rhino are clearly differentiated on all measurable components, including tooth measurements, skull lengths, widths and depths, and limb bone lengths. So whats the difference between them?
Rhinos belong to the Order Perissodactyla – the “odd-toed” mammals and the family Rhinocerotidae (Rhinoceroses). Their front and back feet each have three toes. The genus name for the white rhino is Ceratotherium from the Greek cerato (horn) and thorium (wild beast). The species name is simum (flat nosed). Northern and southern white rhino were originally thought to be subspecies of one another, but now it’s believed that they are separate species entirely.
So how are they different?
Northern – smaller 1400-1600 kg (adult male) – straight back – flat skull – no grooves between ribs – hairier ears and tails – shorter front horn.
Southern – larger 2000-2400 kg (adult male) – concave back and prominent shoulder hump – concave skull – sometimes with distinct vertical grooves between ribs – more body hair – longer front horn.
White is derived from the German word ‘weid’ meaning wide. The wide mouth is indicative of its feeding habits, i.e. they’re grazers, whereas black rhino are browsers and have a prehensile lip.
The last of the white rhino?
The northern white rhino used to range over parts of Uganda, Chad, Sudan, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Years of widespread poaching and civil war in their home range have devastated northern white rhino populations, and they are now considered to be extinct in the wild. Only three remain, Sudan (an ageing male) and the two females, Najin and Fatu. All live at Ol Pejeta Bush Camp.
Due to their old age and infertility, the rhinos aren’t capable of reproducing naturally. The only chance that this species has of continuing is through in-vitro fertilization. Now you know what the difference between the two rhino is, you can help save this species from utter extinction by donating here: https://www.gofundme.com/makearhino