White Rhinoceros – Ceratotherium simum
Known as the second largest animal in the world is the White Rhinoceros. This is a huge animal that typically weighs from 3,000 to 8,000 pounds. The weight record is one that was 9,900 pounds. They are also anywhere from11 to 13 feet in length. The whitish color is one that helps them to blend into their surroundings. They are also a gray color which is why some of them are often assumed to be a different species than what they really belong to.
The physical appearance of the lip area is one way to tell if it is a White Rhinoceros or not. They have a square design there that is much wider than for other species of Rhinoceros. They have two horns that grow on top of their head, with the one in front being much larger than the second one. You will notice that they have very large heads. They also have a lump on the shoulder area around the neck. It is believed this part of the anatomy is there to offer them support for the weight of the head.
Each foot has three toes that allows them to keep their balance during movement. They have been clocked at speeds of up to 50 miles an hour for short periods of time. They don’t have very good eyesight so they will often charge at smells or sounds that they aren’t familiar with. They have ears that move without the rest of the body so that they can survey the area around them easily. The size of their passages for smelling are even bigger than their entire brain!
According to the experts the White Rhinoceros started to separate from other species about 7 million years ago. This information has come from the examination of various fossil remains. Early versions of the White Rhinoceros though featured a skull that was much longer. It is believed this is when the hump on the back developed for it to be able to hold that head up without using large amounts of energy.
There are two identified subspieces of the White Rhinoceros. However, most people aren’t familiar with the second one. Sadly, there are only 7 of them that remain in the world, including three in captivity. Efforts continue to use information from DNA and evolution to try to find a way to save them.
The White Rhinoceros is the species that is social with each other. The males are still very aggressive but they do seem to tolerate each other more. The younger males may form small groups to help them survive due to the lack of habitat for them to each have their own independent home range for finding food. The territories for all of the White Rhinoceros seem to be smaller than with other species. They aren’t too worried about it and will interact with each other at points when their movements overlap each other.
The level of aggression though will increase in areas where there isn’t enough food to go around. They will also attack though if they feel that what they smell or hear is a threat to their own survival.
Habitat and Distribution
Africa is the location where you will find the White Rhinoceros. There are several locations where they are found. Among them are Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Kenya. There are also a few of them found in Namibia. The majority of them that you find in zoo setting belong to this species. They do better in captivity than many of the others. Care has to be taken though to make sure the environment is one that is going to be comfortable and safe for them.
Diet and Feeding Habits
They spend more than half of their day looking for food. They typically will eat a bit in the early morning. Then they to find shade during the heat of the day. Once the sun is fading they are able to go out and eat more. They prefer the shortest grains out there. They will eat taller items though if they can’t find enough of what they really want.
It can be more than 100 pounds of food per day that they consume. They go looking for water usually twice per day. They can go up to five days without water but will seek it out when it is there. They are a prime reason why seeds are able to be spread around their environment and new growth of plants and animals. Seeds from what they consume are in their feces and then scattered by the wind or other animal movements.
Females are ready to make when they are between 6 and 7 years of age. For the males it is later with 10 years of age. The right to mate is one that makes the males very aggressive with each other. Those that win can also be very aggressive to the females. Males can be very dominating during the courtship.
The mating will occur several times over the course of many days. Sometimes the pair will remain with each other for several weeks. The male is in control of how long they will stay with each other before she can go about her way freely. When a female is impregnated she will carry the baby for a period of time that lasts from 16 months.
They take very good care of the young and will tend to them for a couple of years. The females seem to stay around for longer than the males. Then the young have to go find their own place to reside. It can be difficult for the young to find their own way. However, they may be able to go to another crash and that can increase their chances of survival. With the right conditions these Rhinoceros can live up to 50 years in the wild.
Due to the very large size of the White Rhinoceros there are very few encounters out there when any predators will attack them. Even their young are seldom at risk due to the wrath of these large adults. The risk can come from males though that want to mate with the females. They know if she is caring for young she will be less likely to relent to such advances.
Humans are the biggest predators of the White Rhinoceros and a major reason why they are at risk of extinction. They have been hunted for the value of their horns. They are used in China and Asia for various forms of medicine. They are also used in other areas to make weapons.
Many humans have continued to exploit these animals even with conservation in place and laws that ban such hunting. The money they can make from selling the horns of them continues to increase all the time. Others want to hunt for a very large sized animal and they can do so in the regions where these animals live.