These superb animals can be surprisingly friendly with the humans they know and trust and are known as a remarkably sociable animal. A visit to Werribee Open Range Zoo is a chance to see them up close.
Rhinoceros have only one predator, humans, who prize them for their hooves, blood, urine and above all for their horns for use in traditional medicines. The horns are also used to make handles for traditional Jambiya daggers, worn as a status symbol by men in Yemen. Rhinoceros are classed as ‘near threatened’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (on the IUCN ‘red list’). Poaching continues to be a serious problem, but there have been concerted efforts to protect this species and numbers are thought to be increasing; there may be more than 20,000 Southern White Rhinoceros in the wild.
Your visit to Werribee Open Range Zoo helps to fight species extinction. Visiting the rhinos is an opportunity not only to see these wonderful animals at close range, but also to learn about the threats to many African species, what the international community is doing to try to conserve this species, and how Zoos Victoria is contributing to the fight.
The Southern White Rhinoceros is predominantly found in South Africa. It is the largest of the five species of rhinoceros 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 species. Bulls are more vocal, making snorting, bellowing and trumpeting sounds.
Wallowing in mud serves as a sunscreen and insect repellent for the rhinoceros. Males and females 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.
- 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 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