Other Rhino species

The white rhino is particularly vulnerable to hunting, because it is relatively unaggressive and ... rel=
The white rhino is particularly vulnerable to hunting, because it is relatively unaggressive and occurs in herds. Most northern white rhino populations had been wiped out by the middle of the twentieth century.
© KZN Wildlife slide library

White, Great Indian, Javan, Sumatran

There used to be many species of rhinoceros, but there are only five left in the world, including black rhinos. These are the White rhinoceros, the Great Indian Rhinoceros, the Javan rhinoceros and the Sumatran rhinoceros.
White rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum)
Two living subspecies of white rhino are recognised: C.s. cottoni, the northern white rhino, and C.s. simum, the southern white rhino. Recent studies have confirmed that the two subspecies are genetically distinct.

In the 19th century, the northern white rhino had quite a wide distribution in the savannas of northern central Africa. A hundred years ago, it outnumbered the southern subspecies! As late as 1960, there were more than 2,000 remaining. But widespread poaching decimated the population and by 1984 only about 15 individuals survived. Northern white rhinos are now found only in Garamba National Park in north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, although there are unconfirmed reports of a few survivors in southern Sudan.

After more than a century of protection, southern white rhinos now number more than 8,000, confined to protected areas and private ranches, mainly in southern Africa. The recovery of southern white rhinos from the brink of extinction is a great conservation success story. Today South Africa remains the stronghold for southern white rhinos, with the largest population (over 1,600 animals) found in Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Game Reserve. Smaller populations have been reintroduced to Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe.

White rhinos, because they live in groups and need less space, are easier to manage than black rhinos. This partly explains why white rhinos have done so well in comparison, and why the project is now focusing specifically on black rhinos. Unlike black rhinos, white rhinos are grazers. They are most easily distinguishable from black rhinos by their wide square lip.

The other three species are found in Asia.

Read more about the White rhinoceros

Great Indian Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis)
The Indian, or great one-horned rhino is a conservation success story. Thanks to strict protection measures, its population has increased from 600 in 1975 to about 2,400 today. But it is still an endangered animal that faces the ever-present danger of poaching for its horn. Found in north-east India and southern Nepal, they have very folded skin and weigh more than two and a half tons.

Read more about the Great Indian Rhinoceros

Javan rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus)
The Javan rhino is probably the rarest large mammal species in the world, and it is on the very brink of extinction. Fewer than 70 individuals probably survive in the wild, and there are none in captivity.

Human population pressures in the two protected areas that Javan rhinos are known to exist - the Ujung Kulon National Park in Indonesia, and the Cat Tien National Park in Vietnam, are extremely high. Poaching is an ever-present threat.

Read more about the Javan rhinoceros

Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis)
The Sumatran rhino may be the most critically endangered of the three Asian rhino species. Known populations are small and widely scattered, its forest habitat is dwindling fast, and there is always the threat of poaching.

These are the smallest rhinos, and also the hairiest, especially when young. About 300 survive in Vietnam, Malaysia, Sumatra and Borneo but their remaining habitat is under severe threat from logging and farming.

Read more about the Sumatran rhinoceros

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