The white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum) is a species of perissodactyl mammal of the family Rhinocerotidae. 2 It is the largest of the five rhinoceros species that exist, the fourth largest land animal and the fourth heaviest land mammal after the three species of elephants. It can reach 4.2 m in length, 1.85 m in height and up to four and a half tons in larger specimens. It is one of two species of rhinos that live in the African savanna.
White rhinos are actually gray in color, slightly lighter than black rhinos, so there are various theories that attempt to explain the origin of their common name.3 The best known suggests that when the first Dutch settlers arrived In present-day South Africa, in the 17th century, this animal would have been called wijde (‘broad’) in reference to its straight and wide lip, quite different from the pointed lip of the other African rhinoceros. The British, who settled in Cape Town from 1806, mistakenly believed that what the Dutch said was white, an English word with a similar pronunciation. However, this seems to have no basis, and in fact the name could be derived from the pale color of the first specimens that were described.3
The southern subspecies (Ceratotherium simum simum) was classified as «near threatened» (NT) by the IUCN.8 According to 2011 data, after years of protection and relocation the species has increased to 20 150 animals in wild state, thus increasing from the 17,500 registered in 2007.9 The majority of the world’s population is found in South Africa, with 93% of the animals (16,255 for 2007), although in 2010 333 dead individuals were counted due to poaching.1 Overall, the growth experienced by the species in recent years can be considered a great growth if we compare that at the beginning of the 20th century there were only about a thousand specimens left.
BEST PLACES TO SEE RHINOCERONS
Matobo National Park, one of the most important and under-valued places in Zimbabwe, is home to some of the most majestic granite landscapes in the world. It is also one of the best places to see black and white rhinos, although its population is not very prolific due to the terrible onslaught of poaching.
Its impressive landscape seems from another world; with giant balanced rocks, known as kopjes. This UNESCO heritage site is considered the spiritual home of said nation, according to LonelyPlanet.
The Kruger National Park, in northeastern South Africa, is one of the largest game reserves in Africa. Its high density of wild animals includes the 5 species of big game: lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalo. Hundreds of other mammals inhabit here, as do several species of birds, such as vultures, eagles, and storks. The landscape includes mountains, scrub plains, and tropical forests.
Image Of Aesculapius – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4206110