Behaviour and Ecology of White Rhinos

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The white rhinos are famous with their broad snout and a square lip and for having two horns on the end of their nose. The front horn is usually much larger than the inner horn. It is the larger of the two African species. It has a bigger head, due to the muscles that support its neck, and that’s why when he feeds from the ground, his head lowered for much of the day. The adult male weighs between 1,800 and 2,500 kg and females 1,800-2,000 kg. Their shoulder height is 1.5 -1.8 meters. White rhinos have hair only on ears, tail tips and eyelashes. Even they are called white rhinos their color isn’t white, it’s grey same color as the black rhinos despite their names.

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White rhinos live on African long and short grass savannah areas where they sometimes gather as a group. Found in grassland and open savanna woodlands. White rhinos prefer flat lands with bush for cover, grass for grazing and water for drinking and wallowing in, and can occasionally be found in swampy regions.

White rhinos are described as sedentary, semi-social and territorial. Adult bulls are basically solitary and associate only with females in estrus. Stable groups (commonly known as ‘crashes’) of up to six animals can be commonly observed.

The daily life of a rhino consists of feeding and resting alternately during day and night. But when it’s hot they rest more to keep cool and get rid of skin parasites. They need water for drinking every 2-4 days. If there is no wallowing place available, they will roll in dry dust. Females reach sexual maturity at around 6-7 years old compared to males that are between 10-12 years. Females reproduce every two and a half to five years; they stay pregnant for approximately 16 months .The calf stands up within one hour, immediately attempting to suckle. Then it becomes inseparable with his mother until it becomes three years old.

White rhinos feed on grasses and their broad upper lip is adjusted to this type of food (hence the synonym square-lipped). So their horns are not used for catching a prey but instead they are used as weapons against their predators and other rhinos. The white rhinos have two horns that grow from the skin consisted of keratin. Those horns are continuously growing and if broken away, will subsequently grow back. The Northern White Rhino’s larger front (anterior) horn is usually between 37″ – 40″ long, whereas the Southern White Rhinos can reach 79″; while the smaller rear (posterior) horn of both subspecies reaches up to around 22″.Females use their horns to protect their young, while males use them to battle attackers.

Rhinos are surprisingly agile and can run very fast, up to 40 km/h for short periods which a perfect physiological ability. Despite the fact that they have poor eyesight, they possess sharp hearing and keen sense of smell. They can find each other by following the trail of scent each enormous animal leaves behind it on the landscape.

Since they live under the hot African sun, white rhinos take cover by lying in the shade. Rhinos are also willowers. They find a suitable water hole and roll in its mud, coating their skin with a natural bug repellent and sunblock.

The biggest threat that’s facing Rhinos is poaching which means illegal hunting. The horns for which rhinos are so well known has been their downfall as many other animals. They used for medicinal purposes in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. It is also valued in North Africa and the Middle East as a dagger handle. The white rhino is particularly vulnerable to hunting, because it is a large and relatively unaggressive animal with very poor eye sight. The decrease of Africa’s rhinos is one of the greatest wildlife tragedies of all time. Being exposed to habitat loss and poaching. The situation of the northern white rhinos got worse because of the civil war and poverty in both the DRC and neighboring Sudan, which has weakened any conservation efforts. And now there are only two individuals remaining in Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.

The good news is that Southern White Rhino population increased. Many southern white rhino are now concentrated within protected areas such as fenced sanctuaries, conservancies, rhino conservation areas and intensive protection zones. Effective management strategies have resulted in surplus animals being trans located to set up new populations within and outside the species’ former range

And now it is the least endangered of the living rhino species with a population ranging from 19,682 – 21,077 individuals in range countries.

Sadly, I can’t say the same thing for Northern White Rhinos. The most recent surveys have failed to find any evidence of this subspecies in Garamba National Park. If the northern white rhino has now become extinct in the wild, its survival may now depend upon the successful breeding of the small number of rhinos held at Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic.

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