Northern White Rhinoceros Facts

Northern white rhinoceros facts about the critically endangered species of animals

There are five types of rhino species namely, white, black found in Africa, Indian, Javan, and Sumatran found in Southern Asia. In this article, we will take a look at critically endangered northern white rhinoceros. Northern white rhinoceros, Ceratotherium simum cottoni, are extremely scarce and only a few in specific two of these species exist as per 2020 and both are females. Both of the two white rhino species live in Ol Pejeta conservancy in Kenya.

The major reasons for these species reaching the verge of extinction are primarily due to loss of habitat and other exploitative practices that have led to such a unique and beautiful species reach the verge of extinction. The southern white rhino often confused with these species is one of the more prevalent species. Practices and policies have been started to initiate preservation of these species but given that only two of the species exist and both are females they plan to make use of the southern white rhinos surrogates. Such a method however is extremely risky and unlikely to succeed. If you liked this article, check out the Javan rhinoceros and the white rhinoceros.

White rhinoceros

Fact File

What do they prey on?


What do they eat?


Average litter size?

1-2 calves

How much do they weigh?

3968-5511lbs (1800-2500kg)

How long are they?

12.1ft-13.1ft (3.7m-4m)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Yellowish-brown to slate grey

Skin Type

Collagenous Dermis

What are their main threats?

Loss of habitat, illegal poaching, and hunting

What is their conservation status?

Critically endangered

Where you'll find them

Savanna woodlands and grasslands







Scientific Name

Ceratotherium simum cottoni





Northern White Rhinoceros Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a northern white rhinoceros?

Northern white rhinoceros is a type of rhinoceros and belongs to the Animalia kingdom. Southern white rhinos are a subspecies of the northern white rhinoceros. Southern white rhino is more prevalent of the two.

What class of animal does a northern white rhinoceros belong to?

The northern white rhinoceros belong to the Mammalia class of species, and belongs to the Rhinocerotidae family and Ceratotherium genus.

How many northern white rhinoceros are there in the world?

There are exactly two females species of northern white rhinoceros left in the world. One is a mother named Najin and her daughter Fatu. Given that both are females, these pure breeds cannot reproduce. Najin was born in captivity in 1989. On 18 August 2020, researchers harvested ten eggs from Najin and Fatu.  

Where does a northern white rhinoceros live?

Rhinoceros live in savanna woodlands and grasslands, while the only two northern white rhinos who are alive live in Ol Pejeta conservancy in Kenya. Previously they were seen in eastern and central parts of Africa as well as in South Africa but now are extinct in the wild.

What is a northern white rhinoceros' habitat?

White rhinos once lived in the grassy plains of Africa. Given that they are now extinct in the wild the last two wild species are seen only in Ol Pejeta conservancy located in Kenya. They feed primarily on shrubs and grass hence it's essential for them to live in grasslands types of habitats. Under the hot African sun white rhinos take cover by lying down under trees and frequently bathing or lying in water bodies or in mud.

Who do northern white rhinoceros live with?

There exist only two of these animals, a mother and her daughter, both are kept preserved in the Ol Pejeta conservancy in Kenya to keep them from any form of danger and help them sustain themselves. Northern white rhinoceros would have lived with other wild species that lived in the grasslands and savanna regions of Africa in earlier times as well as in groups of up to ten individuals who stayed together.

How long does a northern white rhinoceros live?

The northern white rhinoceros has a lifespan of 41 years. Fauna, a female black rhino was the oldest rhino that lived till the age of 57 years in Sudan. She died away on 27 December. In 2017 the oldest white rhino, Sauna, died in captivity.

How do they reproduce?

Northern white rhinoceros, Ceratotherium simum cottoni, give birth to one baby at a time. Adult males competing for a female may engage in serious conflict using their horns. Males then rest their chin on the female's rump and attempt mounting. In some instances, they do have twins as well. Northern white rhinos give birth every two and a half to five years. The gestation period lasts one year and three months after which the females give birth. At three years the calf is independent enough to live by itself. At the time of birth, a rhino can weigh 88-140lbs (40-64kg).

What is their conservation status?

The northern white rhino is classified as Critically Endangered by the International Union For Conservation Of Nature (IUCN). This is primarily due to loss of habitat, and exploitative practices like hunting and poaching, which is an illegal practice of killing and capturing wild animals in order to get their skin, tusks, or horn in order to sell it as leather or other commodities in the market. So much so that the only living species of the northern white rhinos are seen in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.

Northern White Rhinoceros Fun Facts

What do northern white rhinoceros look like?

Both black and white rhinos are usually grey in color though the former is usually darker than the latter

Northern white rhinoceros, Ceratotherium simum cottoni, is also known as the northern square-lipped rhino and it is primarily yellowish-brown to slate grey in color. White rhinos graze on grasses. Northern white rhinos have enormous heads and are difficult to identify exactly in the first instance. These square-lipped rhinoceros have big horns that are used as weapons to attack possible predators. Illegal hunting for its horn has led to a rapid decline in its population. Although their horns grow back there are complications to this. The rhino's skull needs to be cut into when dehorned otherwise it could complicate things and hamper the growth of a new horn. A rhino horn takes three years to grow back. However, this is no reason to poach their horns as it can cause major difficulty for them to sustain in their daily activities. Males rhinoceroses tend to weigh more than females.

How cute are they?

White rhinoceroses are cute beings and seen rarely unless one visits Kenya. At one point in time, they were spotted in certain locations like South Sudan, as well as areas of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

How do they communicate?

Northern white rhinos communicate via vocalizations. They use a wide range of vocalizations including growls, snores, squeaks, snorts as well as trumpets. They are territorial beings and mark their territories for others to be aware of as they move with their groups.

How big is a northern white rhinoceros?

The northern white rhinoceros is 12.-13.1ft (3.7-4m) in length which is three times bigger than the smallest rhino, the Sumatran rhino 3.9- 4.76 (1.2-1.45m).

How fast can a northern white rhinoceros run?

The northern white rhino is quick to detect any sign of danger and has good speed. They can run at 30mph (50kph). Black rhinos are faster and can run up to speeds of 35mph (55kph).

How much does a northern white rhinoceros weigh?

A northern white rhinoceros weighs 3968-5511lbs (1800-2500kg). Males weigh 1800 to 2500 kg while females weigh 1800 to 2000kg. Hippos are usually heavier than rhinos, though white rhinos are considered the heaviest of the rhino species.

What are their male and female names of the species?

The male northern white rhino is called a bull and the female northern white rhino is called a cow. Males rhinoceroses tend to weigh more than females. Males weigh 1800 to 2500 kg while females weigh 1800 to 2000kg.

What would you call a baby northern white rhinoceros?

Baby northern white rhinos are called calves when they are born.

What do they eat?

White rhinoceroses eat primarily grass in grasslands with their enormous heads and their squared lips. Their heads are usually faced downwards when they search for food. They pluck leaves using their upper lip and feed on ample amounts of grass. They don't consume any fruits, insects, or bigger leaves.

Are they dangerous?

In the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, the rhinoceros are protected round the clock by armed guards.  They are dangerous if approached unarmed and usually use their horns to attack. It's best to keep a distance while observing them.

Would they make a good pet?

No, there are only two species of the northern white rhino remaining and they are kept protected by authorities. Owning a rhino is not an easy task and is done only by recognized institutions. Calves are often kept in conservation centers and fed and taken care of by professionals in the field until they are independent to live by themselves.

Did you know...

The white rhino is the third largest wild animal in Africa and weighs  3968-5511lbs. Other species of rhinos weigh relatively lesser however hippos are heavier as compared to rhinos.

Rhino tusks are used as traditional Asian medicines to demonstrate 'social status' and also traded illegally but various people to earn money. The Czech Republic bought six northern white rhinos from Sudan.

Why is it called a white rhino?

The white rhinos are not actually white but grey. The confusion comes into the picture because of a dutch interpretation of the word 'wijde' meaning wide not white that has been used to describe the white rhino name. Often confusing people about the origin of the white rhino.

Are northern white rhinos extinct?

Scientists declared the species extinct in the year 2008 however there are only two species seen in Kenya. This is primarily due to illegal poaching and hunting activities however in recent years there has been special security out in place to preserve the last surviving species of this animal. The rhino to adapt to ecosystems in its historic range can be preserved. Southern white rhinos populations have increased steadily in recent years and this has been possible through special efforts. Whether or not this subspecies could be brought back from extinction remains uncertain. As of December 2014, only five northern white rhinoceroses remained in the world and as of 2020 there are only two females left one of whom is old. Preservation of wildlife is essential for the sustenance of the ecosystem and losing such unique species is a loss for all as well as for future generations.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including the black-backed jackal and the rhinoceros beetle.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our bird and the rhinoceros coloring pages.



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