5 African Rhino Facts to Celebrate World Rhino Day

World Rhino Day is September 22. Since 2010, concerned organizations and individuals worldwide have used this day to celebrate the world’s 5 rhino species, and to raise awareness about the illegal horn trade.

Fact #1: Africa’s 2 rhino species are shades of gray

There are 2 species of African rhino: the black rhino and the white rhino: both species are actually gray in color. The description “white” may be a mistranslation of the Dutch “wijd” or wide, describing the white rhino’s wider mouth, used for grazing grasses.


White rhino eating some grass near Ulusaba Lodge in Greater Kruger National Park South Africa

Fact #2: Rhinos are very committed mothers

Female black rhinos reproduce only every 2 and a half to 5 years, with a gestation period of 16 months. Although rhinos are solitary in nature, a mother and her single calf will stay together untill the youngster is 3 years old.


Rhinos in Palmwag - Photo by Dana Allen

Fact #3: Rhinos are fast on their feet

The second largest land mammal weighing over 2 tons, the white rhino can run at speeds of 31 mph, and the slightly smaller black rhino can reach speeds of 35 mph. Their poor eyesight is credited for a propensity to charge anything when threatened: other animals, rocks or even trees.


White Rhino moving towards the camera

Fact #4:  A rhino horn is unlike other animals’ horns

Unlike the horns of most animals, which have a bony core covered by a thin layer of keratin, rhino horns are keratin all the way through. Although it is the same composition as fingernails, it hasn’t stopped powdered horn from being used in traditional Asian medicine as a supposed cure for a range of illnesses – from hangovers to fevers and even cancer.


Rhinos stand together on grass near Solio Lodge in Laikipia Plateau Kenya

Fact #5: Rhinos have no natural predators except for man

In spite of that, the numbers of both species in the wild are staggeringly low: there are approximately 4,800 black rhino and 20,000 white rhino surviving in the wild. White rhinos mainly live in South Africa, but they have also been reintroduced to Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe. Southern white rhinos have been introduced to Kenya, Zambia, and Cote d’Ivoire. The majority of the black rhino population—98%—is concentrated in four countries: South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Kenya.


Rhinos and zebras near Solio Lodge in Laikipia Plateau Kenya

Learn from Save the Rhino Trust experts and track endangered free-roaming black rhino on our top Namibia safari