Southern white rhinoceros

Ceratotherium simum simum

After the elephant, this is the largest land animal, and can measure up to 2 metres in height, 4 metres in length, and can weigh over 3,500 kgs. It has two horns and a wide, straight snout, adapted to cutting the grass it lives off.


Although its numbers have recovered slightly in the last few years, it is still hunted for its horns, which are much appreciated in the traditional medicine of some Oriental countries, making it a highly endangered species.

Breeding program

EPP - Zoo Barcelona

Natural habit

South African Republic, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Mozambique, Swaziland, Kenya.

Southern white rhinoceros
  • Distribution / Resident
  • Breeding
  • Wintering
  • Subspecies

Risk level

  • Extint
  • Extint in the wild
  • Critically endangered
  • In Danger
  • Vulnerable
  • Near threatened
  • Minor concern
  • Insufficient data
  • Not evaluated
Near threatened



Physical characteristics

1350-3500 kg
Birth Weight: 40-65 kg
150-180 cm
45 - 50 years


Social life



Discover how they are



The white rhino is the biggest of the five existing species of rhinoceros. Some individuals can reach almost 2 m tall, 4 m long and weight more than 3,500 kg. Apart from its size, it is known for the shape of its snout, with wide and straight lips perfectly adapted to cut, from the ground of the African savannah, the grass that constitutes its main diet, unlike the black rhino, which also lives in the African savannah but has a sharp and prehensile snout that allows it to pull up leaves, branches and sprouts from the bushes and shrubs on which it feeds.


Its naked and hardened skin, which gives it an armoured look, as well as the two powerful horns on the upper part of its head, made from keratin, the same substance of which our hair or nails are made, that represent its most famous feature.


Forest-savannahs, grass plains, open forested regions and even swamps.


Mainly grass, which it cuts in great amounts, thanks to its characteristic straight and wide lips.


Gestation lasts for sixteen months and the only born calf weights more than 50 kg at the moment of its birth. Its life span is 45-50 years.


Males are solitary and defend their territories of up to 200 hectares, which they delimit with their urine and piles of excrements. Females, which are more sociable, can form small more-or-less stable groups, with new-borns and immature calves ten or more animals.

Status and conservation programs

There are two subspecies of the white rhinoceros: the northern, Ceratotherium simum cottoni, which is nowadays considered extinct in the wild, as none has been found during the last year in the place it was last seen, Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and the southern one, Ceratotherium simum simun, the one living at the Zoo of Barcelona, which until recently only lived in the South African Republic, but that lately has been reintroduced to other places, such as Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Kenya or Zimbabwe.


Although it was a critically endangered until recently (like all the other rhinoceros), threatened by poaching, due to high demand of its horns used in eastern countries as a medical and aphrodisiac product, as well as to manufacture dagger handles for which huge sums are paid, the southern white rhino is the most recovered species of the last years, thanks to the strict protection it has been granted. Actually, nowadays it is the most populous rhino species in the wild.