Tag Archives: White rhinoceros

Is there a reason for this white rhino to look so despondent on World Rhino Day?

World Rhino Day 2014

Is there a reason for this white rhinoceros to look so despondent on World Rhino Day? Ponder for a moment on the thought that there’s a good chance this white rhino, that we encountered in the Kruger National Park in August this year, may not be roaming around the wilderness anymore. There’s a good chance this rhino has been killed, its carcass left to rot under the African sun while its horns have already been ground to a fine powder somewhere in Asia.

The 22nd of September is World Rhino Day, a day to reflect on the large-scale slaughter these enigmatic animals are facing due to human greed and superstitious culture. This year alone, South Africa has already lost more than 769 rhinos to poaching (that was the figure as at 12/09/2014), following from 1004 in 2013, 668 in 2012, 448 in 2011, 333 in 2010.., well, the trend is clear.

It is also another chance to express our deep gratitude to those brave men and women out in the bush, fighting a war against the decimation of our wildlife, putting their lives on the line so that black and white rhinos remain a feature of Africa’s natural heritage for generations to come.

WRD2013640px-300x375

Southern White Rhinoceros

Ceratotherium simum simum

White Rhino (13)

It’s hard to imagine a more prehistoric looking large mammal alive in the world today than the white rhinoceros. Being one of our favourite species, we cherish every sighting we have of them while exploring the wild places of South Africa.

It is thought that the white rhino got its name from its wide mouth – a miss-translation of the Dutch word “wijd” which means wide. Scientifically, the name “Square-lipped Rhinoceros’ is probably more correct, but not widely used. The white rhino uses its broad mouth to good effect, grazing as it does almost exclusively on short grasses, in contrast to its smaller African cousin, the black rhinoceros, which is a browsing species. After the elephants, the white rhinoceros is the biggest living land animal. They can stand over 1.8m (6 feet) high at the shoulder and bulls weigh up to 2,400 kg. Cows are lighter at up to 1,800 kg, while calves weigh between 40 and 60 kg at birth.

White rhinos prefer open, lightly wooded habitats with a good covering of short, sweet grasses and easy access to drinking water (they drink about 72 liters of water a day). They are by far the most social of the rhinoceroses, at times congregating in groups of up to 18, though normally much fewer. Adult bulls are territorial, and groups of cows and their calves range over the territories of several bulls.

Cows give birth to a single calf every 3 to 5 years. The calves are vulnerable to attack from lions and spotted hyenas, but healthy adults have little to fear from any natural predators. Most adults succumb to a natural death from injuries sustained in fights, freak accidents like getting stuck in mud, drowning or getting caught in bush fires, and during prolonged droughts. Sickeningly, poaching for their horns has recently become probably the biggest single cause of death for adult white rhinos, which would normally have a life expectancy of up to 45 years in the wild.

Today, the Southern White Rhinoceros is considered “near threatened“. At the start of the 1900’s, only between 20 and 50 animals remained, all of them in the Umfolozi Game Reserve (today part of Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park). One of South Africa’s greatest conservation success stories is how the Natal Parks Board (today Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife) and dedicated conservationists like Dr. Ian Player pulled these majestic animals from the jaws of extinction: by 2010 their wild population stood at an estimated 20,170 of which 18,800 were being protected in South Africa. Now, ever escalating pressure from poaching is threatening to undo their fantastic work. Sadly, the fortunes of the Northern White Rhinoceros, which historically occurred in the Sudan, the DRC and Uganda, is even more dire, with only four individuals remaining in the wild, having been relocated from a zoo in the Czech Republic to a conservancy in Kenya.

White Rhino (7)

Ithala Game Reserve: 22 December 2012

Good evening again from Ithala Game Reserve!

On our afternoon drive today we came across this female white rhinoceros with her calf in dense shrubbery – we liked the shot so much we wanted to share it as our “pic of the day”.

White rhinoceros (Ithala)

Long may they and their kind have a home here in Africa!

Escape

It’s because of situations like these that the Kruger National Park is the place we escape to so regularly. On arriving this morning, these two white rhinoceroses blocked our way into the rest camp (the gates of which you can see just behind them)!

I’m participating in the LetsBeWild.com Wild Weekly Photo Challenge – this week’s challenge is Escape!

World Rhino Day 2012

South Africa is home to both species of African rhinoceros: the extremely aggressive black rhino and the much more placid white rhino. Encountering either species during our visits to our country’s wild places is always a thrilling experience and losing these beautiful beasts forever, due to human greed and superstition, is a thought too terrible to ponder.

As I post these images I cannot help but wonder whether the individual animals they depict are still alive and well?

The 22nd of September 2012 is internationally celebrated as World Rhino Day. The message that rhinoceros horn holds no curative or aphrodisiac properties needs to be spread loud and clear so that the market for rhino horn can be wiped out, and it cannot happen soon enough. There are many people from all over the world and from all walks of life working tirelessly, and even putting their own lives in the firing line, to protect these magnificent creatures from savage poachers, but the onslaught from the organised crime syndicates continue unabated – so far this year we’ve lost at least 381 rhinoceros through poaching in South Africa alone (according to the official figures published in September 2012).

Please lend your support by spreading the message of World Rhino Day to the world.

Free Spirit

A White Rhinoceros, photographed in the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park in South Africa – feeling safe and free to laze around wherever it chooses for however long it cares to do so. Ironic, as these creatures currently face an immense threat from poaching.

More on our latest visit to the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park.

White Rhinoceros, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, South Africa