Often fierce and unpredictable, nature’s giant armoured rhino is one of the rarest and most fascinating creatures on earth. Prehistoric in appearance, the crowning glory of the Rhinoceros is undoubtedly its formable and sought after horns, a composition of keratin, the protein found in our hair and nails. These sturdy and heavyset animals found in the grassy savannas of Africa and tropical forests of Asia, are the biggest land animals after the elephant. Savagely hunted down for their horns for medicinal use, the rhino is listed as “critically endangered” by the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the global organization which tracks and safeguards the existence of natural species.
There are currently five surviving species of rhinoceros. The African white rhino and black rhino and three Asian rhinos, namely the greater one-horned, Sumatran and Javan rhinos. It is estimated that there are now less than 70 Javan rhino and only 100 Sumatran rhino left in the wild, a startling diminishing number with several species recently declared extinct.
The names, white and black rhino have nothing to do with their colour, in fact, they are much the same colour. It is an error that slipped in during translations from Dutch-Afrikaans to English.
The white rhino which is also called the square-lipped or wide-mouthed rhino, is larger and grazes grass, lives in grassland and the calf walking in front of the mother.
The black rhino is the hook-lipped rhino which browses on leaves and is found in rain forests to arid scrubland and the calf walks behind the mother. The hook-lipped rhino is the more aggressive of the two African species. An adult rhino can weigh up to 700kg though the largest individuals have known to weigh close to 1,000kg.
The Johannesburg Zoo, in its conservation efforts, currently houses 2 species of rhino, the white rhino and the black rhino. Two white rhinos are Zimbi, a 27-year-old female and her partner Peter who is much younger than her at 18 years of age. Shaka, our black rhino is only 8 years old and still has a lot to learn from the older ones.
In celebration of World Rhino Day, the Joburg Zoo is running an exciting on-line competition designed to encourage and educate children from the ages of 5 – 15 years to create a rhino poster. Winners will be selected in three age categories, namely 5-8 years; 9-12years; and 13-15 years. Each entry qualifies the winner 2 tickets to the zoo and only one entry per child. The competition closes on 30 September 2022. Winners will be announced on 15 October 2021. Submissions should include name, surname, contact details and age and should be mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over the years, the increase in numbers of the mighty Rhinoceros and through the anti-poaching conservation efforts by various organisations, has brought hope for the survival of these mysterious and powerful creatures.
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Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo
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