The Facts

  • Genus/Species: Rhinocerotidae, 5 species
  • Conservation Status: Endangered
  • Location: Parts of Africa and Asia


The Scoop

Big and Fast

There are five species of Rhinoceros- Black and White Rhinos, Sumatran and Javan Rhinos, and the Greater One Horned Rhino. The black and white species are found in open grasslands and floodplains, while the other three species prefer swamps and forests. The word rhinoceros comes from the Greek words ‘rhino’ meaning ‘nose’ and ‘ceros’ meaning ‘horn’ - and the horn is the rhinoceros’ most distinguishing feature. Javan rhinos and greater one-horned rhinos have only one horn, while Sumatran rhinos, black rhinos, and white rhinos have two. Rhinos have big heads, thick legs, poor eyesight and excellent hearing. They also love to roll in mud! Rhinos have a special relationship with tick birds or oxpeckers. The bird feeds on ticks that it finds on the rhinos skin, and in return, it nosily warns the rhino of approaching danger.

Rhinos are big! The biggest is the white rhino which can be as long as two adults lying head to toe - around 12 to 13 feet. The white rhino can weigh as much as 5000 pounds, or as much as a big car. The other species are smaller- but still big and heavy. Rhinos are vegetarians.  The black rhino is a browser and eats leaves, shoots, bushes and trees. The white rhino is a grazer, feeding on grasses.

Rhinos rank among the most endangered species on Earth and face a serious threat from poaching. The only way to ensure their survival is to secure them in protected areas such as sanctuaries.


Did You Know?

  • In spite of their huge size, rhinos can move pretty fast. A black rhino, when startled, can thunder along as fast as a car- around 40 miles an hour.
  • You may think rhinos are thick skinned, but their skin is actually quite sensitive to sunburn and insect bite- which is why they love to wallow in mud to cool off.
  • A white rhino’s head alone can weigh 1000 pounds- which is why they have a hump of muscle on their head and shoulders to hold it up.
  • The black rhino and white rhino are both actually grayish in color. 


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