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The Southern White Rhinoceros only one has one predator, humans, who hunt them for their horns.
There are five different species of rhino: the Black and White Rhino, the Javan, Sumatran and Indian, or Greater One-horned Rhino. Three of the five remaining rhino species are listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.
The Southern White Rhinoceros, which can be found grazing on the savannah at Werribee Open Range Zoo is classed as Near Threatened.
There are thought to be just over 20,000 Southern White Rhinoceros remaining in the wild and the survival of this species is under serious threat as a result of illegal poaching for their horn, with 1338 rhinos killed in Africa in 2015.
Rhino poaching is being driven by the demand for rhino horn in Asian countries, particularly Vietnam and China. It is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine from things like cancer to hangovers. More commonly it is now also used as a status symbol to display someone’s success and wealth.
Rhino horn is made out of keratin, which is what our fingernails and hair is made out of it and it has no proven medicinal value.
The Southern White Rhinoceros is predominantly found in South Africa. It is the largest of the five rhino species and is also known as the ‘square-lipped rhinoceros’ because of its wide, straight upper lip that enables it to graze. It is seldom aggressive and is the most sociable of the five rhino species. Bulls are more vocal, making snorting, bellowing and trumpeting sounds.
Wallowing in mud is an important behaviour for young rhino calves to learn from the adults as the mud has protective properties for the rhinos’ thick skin: it serves as a sunscreen, insect repellent and antiseptic lotion to heal small wounds.
Both the male and female Southern White Rhinoceros have two horns, the front one reaching lengths of up to 150cm. An adult male weighs approximately 2.3 tonnes and a female weighs about 1.8 tonnes. The average birth weight for a newborn Southern White Rhino is between 60kg – 70kg. The gestation period, or length of pregnancy for a female rhino is generally between 15 to 16 months.
Werribee Open Range Zoo has been involved in the care of Southern White Rhinos for more than thirty years and is proud to support Zoos Victoria's international partnership with Rhino Fund Uganda, to support the recovery of rhinos in Uganda.
Your visit to the Zoo helps to fight species extinction. Visiting Werribee Open Range Zoo offers not only an opportunity to see this awesome animal at close range, but also to learn about the Zoos Victoria's work with Rhino Fund Uganda and to take action for wildlife in Kenya through the Beads for Wildlife campaign.
- A rhinoceros has three toes on each foot
- Some animals such as the eland and kudu will roll in rhinoceros poo to disguise their scent. This reduces their chances of being attacked by predators such as lions
- The collective noun for a group of rhinos is a 'crash' of rhinos
- The rhinoceros’ ears can move independently allowing it to hear in different directions at the same time
- Rhinoceros horn is made of keratin, the same substance of human hair and nails
- A pile of rhinoceros poo is called a ‘midden’. Rhinos use middens to help them navigate in their territory
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