Southern White Rhinoceros

Southern White RhinocerosOther names: Square-lipped Rhinoceros, Wide-lipped Rhinoceros
Scientific Name: Ceratotherium simum simum
Conservation Status: Near Threatened
Body Length: 3.6–4.2 m
Height: 1.5 – 1.85 m
Weight: Up to 2.4 tonnes
Gestation: 16 months
Number of young: 1

Distribution: Southern Africa
Habitat: Savannah

Description: The Southern White Rhinoceros has a thick grey hide and two long horns on its snout. They also have a wide, straight upper lip. Their legs are fairly slim, allowing them to run up to speeds of 45 kmh, which is amazing for their size. Rhinoceros have poor eyesight but their sense of smell is very good.

Diet: Rhinoceros are herbivores and graze mostly on grass with their flat, wide muzzle like a lawn mower.

In the wild: Although they will charge to intimidate predators, rhinoceros are quite placid. Mother-calf pairs stay together for long periods of time. Full-grown males tend to be solitary.

Threats: Humans are the main predators of rhinoceros. Rhinoceros are hunted for their horns. The horn is made from keratin, the same as our fingernails and hair. Rangers in Africa have sedated rhinoceros and cut off their horns to stop poachers. Because the horn is made of keratin, it doesn’t hurt to have it removed.

At Perth Zoo: You can see our father and son pair of  Southern White Rhinoceros in the African Savannah.

Did you know? White Rhinoceros aren’t white at all. The name comes from the Afrikaan word ‘weit’ which means wide and refers to the lip. This gives the rhinoceros their other names, the Square-lipped Rhinoceros or Wide-lipped Rhinoceros.

There are five species of rhinoceros. To learn about them, visit or

The most endangered rhinoceros species in the world is the Sumatran Rhinoceros. Perth Zoo contributes to the conservation of Asian Rhinoceros in the wild by supporting Asian Rhino Project and its work If you would like to help, visit the website at

Download the Southern White Rhinoceros Fact Sheet (pdf).

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