Ceratotherium – White Rhinoceros

White with a dark future! Victim of the myths, it is the biggest of the five rhino species

It has never been white; it is simply a misnomer!

The name “white” is actually derived from the Dutch word “weit,” meaning “wide,” referring to the animal’s broad mouth, which is designed for grazing. This species, with its massive body, wide mouth for grazing on grasses, and two horns, plays a pivotal role in its ecosystem by influencing the structure of the grasslands and serving as a keystone species in its habitat.

The White Rhinoceros is divided into two subspecies: the Northern White Rhino (NWR) and the Southern White Rhino (SWR). Both subspecies have historically roamed across much of sub-Saharan Africa, but their populations have suffered dramatically due to poaching and habitat loss. The primary driver of this decline is the illegal trade in rhino horn, fueled by demand in Southeast Asia, particularly in Vietnam and China, where the horn is erroneously believed to have medicinal properties or is used as a symbol of wealth and status. The involvement of organized international crime syndicates in the poaching and trading of rhino horns has made conservation efforts even more challenging.

The Southern White Rhino once teetered on the edge of extinction, with only a small population of 20–50 animals by the end of the 19th century. However, concerted conservation efforts, including stringent protection and management practices, have enabled this subspecies to rebound impressively. Today, they are the most abundant of all rhino species, though they continue to face threats from poaching and habitat loss.

In stark contrast, the Northern White Rhino has been driven to near extinction in the wild, primarily due to poaching. With only two females remaining under strict protection and surveillance, the subspecies is functionally extinct, and its survival depends on advanced reproductive techniques and meticulous conservation strategies.