11 amazing rhino facts

Discover fascinating facts about black and white rhinos. 

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Black rhino

1. Two Greek words, rhino meaning nose and ceros meaning horn combine to create the word rhinoceros.

2. The white rhino name likely derives from the Afrikaner word ‘wijd’ meaning wide, which refers to the animal’s wide mouth. There are two white rhino subspecies, the southern white rhino (Near Threatened) and the northern white rhino (Critically Endangered). 

3. Black rhinos have hooked lips which they use to wrap around branches and leaves on trees and bushes when they are foraging.

4. It is estimated that 97 per cent of the Critically Endangered black rhino population was lost between 1970 and 1992. 

5. Rhinos love wallowing. By covering themselves with mud and letting it dry they are protecting their skin from the fierce African sun. Rhinos will rub their bodies against tree trunks and rocks to remove ectoparasites, such as ticks, which have become stuck in the dry mud on their skin. 

6. Rhinos have fantastic hearing and a great sense of smell, but have terrible eyesight. They will struggle to spot something further than 30m away. 

7. Rhino horns are made of keratin, the same substance that makes up our nails and hair. It has no medical properties despite being used in traditional Asian medicine. 

8. Horns grow from the skin of rhinos and are not attached to their skull. They continuously grow and if broken off, will grow back.

9. A group of rhinos is called a crash.

10. Rhino home ranges are marked with dung heaps called middens that are used by both male and females to communicate their whereabouts and reproductive condition.

11. Oxpeckers have a symbiotic relationship with rhinos. Rhinos have a host of ectoparasites on their hide that the birds eat, keeping the rhino free of parasites. The oxpeckers can also raise the alarm, warning the rhino if any danger is about.

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