Rhinos sit high up on the list of animals I enjoy seeing and spending time watching. They are not only shockingly huge; they also have a great character that defines them. They are strong, surprisingly quick and agile and naturally peaceful animals.
The white rhinoceros – the species seen more frequently in this region – is believed to have come from a species of rhino that existed in South Africa’s Western Cape region 7 million years ago. Think about visiting Cape Town and seeing rhinos walking around the base of Table Mountain…
The white rhino is the largest of the five rhino species. They can be as long as 4.5 metres (14.8 feet!) with a shoulder height of 186cm (6.10 feet). The males average about 2,300 kilograms or 5,070 pounds, with the largest weighing up to 3,500 kilograms or 7,940 pounds. They are the second largest land mammal after the various species of elephant. I always like to think that the animal we are watching is as heavy as or even heavier than the vehicle we are sitting in! It’s hard to imagine, but that massive body can move itself at 50km/h (31 mph)!
Rhinos have what can only be referred to as a prehistoric appearance. They sport two horns on the front of their skull. The longer one is about 60cm (24 inches) long, with the longest reaching 150cm (59 inches)! The horn is solid keratin; this differs from the bovids (cows, buffalos) in that the bovids have a keratin covering of a bony core.
Their feet are among the rhino’s most interesting features. They have three toes: two smaller ones on the outsides and one larger one in the middle of their foot (see below)!
As many of you know the rhino is highly endangered. There are five species of rhino: two in Africa and three in Southern Asia. The total number of these ancient beasts left in the wild is less than 30,000. Compare that to a population of humans in a city. National Geographic refers to a town as having between 2,500 and 20,000 residents. So if all the rhinos left in the wild were living in the same area we could say that they comprise a very small city… how many people live in your city?
The rhino has small eyes relative to its head and body size. The rhino’s ears are long and wide and can move independently. Their sense of smell is probably their most developed sense; they have the widest set of nostrils of any land based mammal.
Appreciate viewing these unique, colossal animals which have roamed the planet for millions (literally, millions) of years.