Southern white rhinoceros

Almost extinct 100 years ago, the southern white rhino is now relatively secure thanks to successful conservation efforts.
 / ©: / Andy Rouse / WWF
Clic to discover how WWF is working to protect rhinos in Africa and Asia
© / Andy Rouse / WWF
White rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum) drinking. The animals need to drink every two to three days.
© Martin Harvey / WWF

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Key facts

  • Common Names

    Southern white rhinoceros; Rhinocéros blanc du Sud (Fr); Rinoceronte (Sp)

  • Scientific Name

    Ceratotherium simum simum

  • Location

    Southern Africa

  • Status

    Near Threatened


  • Population


Help Africa's rhinos

Make a donation towards much-needed anti-poaching equipment and support for rangers across Africa.

Saved from extinction

Previous population & distribution
Southern white rhinos once ranged across Southern Africa. In the face of colonization, the subspecies suffered the earliest decline of all African rhinos.

In the late 19th century, it was considered extinct. However, in 1895 a small population of less than 100 individuals was discovered in the Umfolozi-Hluhluwe region in Natal, South Africa.

Current population & distribution
After more than a century of protection, southern white rhinos now number over 20,000, confined to protected areas and private ranches. Classified as Near Threatened, they are now the only non-endangered rhinos.

South Africa remains the stronghold for these rhinos, with smaller populations having been re-introduced to Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe. Southern white rhinos have also been introduced to Kenya, and Zambia.

However, white rhinos are bearing the brunt of the current poaching crisis with hundreds being killed each year, primarily in South Africa.


The southern white rhino is the heaviest of the two white rhino subspecies, weighing up to 3.6 tonnes.


Major habitat type
Montane Grasslands and Shrublands

Biogeographic realm

Range States
South Africa, Botswana (re-introduced), Namibia (re-introduced), Swaziland (re-introduced), Zimbabwe(re-introduced), Kenya (introduced), Zambia (introduced)

Geographical Location
Southern Africa

Ecological Region
Central and Eastern Miombo Woodlands, Southern Rift Montane Woodlands, Namib-Karoo-Kaokoveld Deserts

How you can help

  • Don't buy rhino horn products! Illegal trade in rhino horn is a continuing problem, posing one of the greatest threats to rhinos today.
  • Donate towards much-needed anti-poaching equipment and support for rangers across Africa.
    South Africans / Residents of other countries

    Donations will go towards:
    • binoculars
    • radios
    • night-vision gear
    • bullet-proof armour
    • rhino tracking
    • camping equipment
    • training for guards
       All money received will go towards rhino conservation.

  • Spread the word! Click on the button to share this information with others via email or your favourite social networking service.

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