Southern White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum) | WWF

Southern White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum)

Did you know?

  • The white rhino has almost no hair.
  • The white rhino is also called the "square-lipped rhinoceros" because of its broad, square upper lip, which it uses for grazing.
  • The white rhinoceros is not actually white, but slate or brownish-gray, like the black rhinoceros. The reference to white likely resulted from a mistranslation of the Afrikaner word for wide (referring to the wide mouth).
The Southern White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum) is a subspecies of the White Rhinoceros and is the most common subspecies of rhino in the world. Almost all of these creatures live in South Africa.

Physical description

  • It is larger than the northern subspecies.
  • Adult males weigh 2,000-3,600kg, females weigh 1,400-1,700kg.
  • Colour is light and can range from yellow-brown to grey
  • It has stubby legs and has a very large hump on its back
  • It has 2 horns, the front one being the largest, measuring as long as 90cm.


The Southern white rhino was one of the first rhinos to fall to the brink of extinction in modern times. At the beginning of the 20th Century, there were perhaps only 50-200 southern white rhino surviving. Like other rhinos, the southern white has fallen victim to poachers who sell its horn for medicinal or ornamental purposes in the Far East and Middle East.

Southern White Rhinoceros Conservation

Thanks to the efforts of dedicated conservationists, researchers and concerned individuals (especially in South Africa), southern white rhinos were protected and the total population estimate was 11,600 in 2001. They are now the most abundant kind of rhino in the world – in fact, their numbers are greater than all the other kinds (taxa) of rhinos combined. However, continued conservation vigilance is needed as poaching pressure is still intense.

The southern white rhino is listed as near threatened by IUCN.

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