It’s World Rhino Day! Facts and figures about these horned mammals

Posted by Anita Froneman on 22 September 2021

World Rhino Day is celebrated annually on 22 September, and this year marks the 10th celebration. Let’s pause and take a look at the latest rhino population statistics, and some interesting facts about this beautiful animal.

There are five rhino species in the world: Black, White, Greater One-horned (or Indian), Sumatran, and Javan.

Poaching and conservation

In South Africa, we have the White Rhino, whose conservation status is listed as ‘Near Threatened’ by the IUCN and the Black Rhino, listed as ‘Critically Endangered’.

These are the population numbers according to Save the Rhino:

Javan rhino 75
Sumatran rhino <80
Black rhino Between 5,366 and 5,627
Greater one-horned rhino 3,588
White rhino Between 17,212 and 18,915


Rhino poaching in South Africa declines by 33%

Even after years of creating awareness, spreading information and educating residents, rhino poaching is rampant in South Africa due to high demand both locally and internationally for use in traditional medicine.

According to Saving the Wild, the white rhino population in Kruger National Park has plummeted 67% from around 10,621 in 2011 to just 3,549 individuals in 2019.

Fortunately, much is being done to prevent the decline in numbers and several organisations are working tirelessly to combat poaching and conserve these animals. Learn more about some of these organisations and how you can get involved below:

Save the Rhino

Care for Wild 

SANParks K9 Watchdog National Project 

SANParks Conservation Services National Project

The Rhino Orphanage 

Image: Ron Magill

Fun facts about rhinos

On a lighter note, we love to learn more about these animals. Here are some interesting facts about rhino, according to the WWF:

-White rhinos are the largest species, weighing up to 3,500kg

-Javan and greater one-horned rhinos only have one horn, whereas all the other rhino species have two horns.

-Their horns grow continuously during their lifetime, the way our fingernails grow continuously

-The longest rhino horn on record is 150cm long

-Sometimes several rhino will urinate and defecate in the same area, known as a midden, so they can smell the other individuals, and know who’s in the area. It’s easy to tell the difference between white and black rhino middens (even without seeing the rhinos,) as white rhinos are grazers and their middens will be full of digested grass, while black rhinos are browsers so their middens will be full of sticks and leaves.

-They roll in mud because it’s fun, yes, but actually it’s to provide them with a natural sunscreen and insect repellent!

Pictures: Getaway gallery


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