Rhinos are one of the least researched animals on our planet, but at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, the rangers that protect the animals observe their behaviour. Here are 10 interesting facts that you may not have known about white rhinos:
1. Rhinos are social, similarly to elephants, and have small families called a ‘crash’.
2. A dominant male plays the father and protector (although the calves will never really meet their dad).
3. Like elephants, they mourn the death of a family member.
4. Their skin is three inches thick.
5. They’re short sighted but they have acute hearing and a heightened sense of smell to compensate.
6. Their head is the heaviest part of their body, which is why they only eat short grass.
7. They need to consume up to 150 kilos per day and drink 60 to 80 litres of water in order to sustain their three-tonne weight.
8. A male rhino will mature at 10 years old while a female will take eight years.
9. Their average life span is 45 years and they’ll continue to grow throughout the course of it.
10. In her lifetime, a single female can produce up to 12 offspring, going through a gestation period of 16 months, which is the second longest period for any mammal; elephants have the longest at 22 months.
When a calf is born, the mother will separate it from the crash to raise it until it is strong enough. Unfortunately, no matter how strong it becomes, there’s nothing stopping humans – the rhino’s biggest threat – from killing it for its horn.
Ziwa has had quite the success. Ten calves have born and there are five crashes living in the sanctuary alongside bush buck, leopard, honey badgers, armadillos, waterbuck, warthog and vervet monkeys.