All About African Rhinos


Living at Lewa means you have to know your animals so if you see something roaming around the Wildlife Conservancy, you can confidently say ‘that’s a Black Rhino!’ You might think it’s easy to know the difference between a black and white rhino, but telling them apart is tricky business. That’s why we’ve called in the experts from Northern Kenya’s Lewa Wildlife Conservancy to teach us how to win at a game of ‘Name that Rhino!’
Earth Month is for the Animals

Step One: Get out the measuring tape

  • Black rhinos measure up to 1.6m at the shoulder.
  • White rhinos are a little bit taller, measuring up to 1.8m at the shoulder.
white rhino, kenya, wildlife, lewa, rhino
White Rhino at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. Photo Credit: Edwin Kisio

Step Two: Take a peek at their noggin

  • Black rhinos have a short head, which is generally carried high. They have a hooked upper lip that is used for grasping small branches and broad, more open and more rounded trumpet-shaped ears.
  • White rhinos have a longer, heavier head that is generally carried close to the ground; they also have a broad square-shaped mouth and lips as well as narrower, longer and more closed tabular ears.

Step Three: Inspect their hump

  • Black rhinos have a hollow, saddle-back with the sacral bump starting well to the rear along the spine.
  • The white rhino’s back is more humped, with the sacral bump about 2/3 the way along the back.

Step Four: Count their friends

  • White rhinos are more sociable and can be found in large groups of over seven animals.
  • Black rhinos usually live alone but sometimes they can be found with over five animals of the same age but these groupings don’t last long.
black rhino, kenya, wildlife, Lewa, rhino
Black Rhino at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. Photo Credit: Edwin Kisio

Step Five: Ask what they’ve had for lunch

  • Black rhinos feed on woody plant material or herbs (forbs), which they bite off using their teeth
  • White rhinos eat grass; their wide mouth enables them to take in big mouthfuls of food to satisfy their large appetites.

Step Six: Watch the baby rhinos

  • Black rhino calves walk behind their mother.
  • White rhino calves walk in front of their mother possibly making them less vulnerable to predators.

Step Seven: Dissect some Dung

  • Black rhino dung is orange-brown in colour and retains an orange or yellow colour when dry
  • White rhino dung is dark or light grey, drying to a pale yellow or white.

Did You Know… There are two types of rhinos that live in Africa, the black rhino (Diceros bicornis) and the white rhino (Ceratotherium simum). The black rhino has three surviving sub species (Diceros bicornis michaeli, Diceros bicornis bicornis and Diceros bicornis minor) while the white rhino has two (Southern – Ceratotherium simum simum and the Northern white rhino – Ceratotherium simum cottoni).

Building a home for Rhinos

The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy has its roots way back in 1984 when 5,000 acres was set aside for its creation. Today the Conservancy is made up of over 62,000 acres of protected rhino land, a home any animal can be proud of!

Both the black and white rhino can be found at Lewa and they rely on this Wildlife Conservancy to provide them with a safe place to live. In the wild, rhino populations have dropped significantly due to poaching, which means that this animal relies on protected areas like Lewa to keep them safe.

grasslands, Kenya, Lewa, Africa,
Grassland at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. Photo Credit: Edwin Kisio

The resident black rhino population living at Lewa came from various places in Kenya. On the other hand, the white rhino population has its ancestry in South Africa. Since arriving, these populations have continued to grow as new babies are born.

It’s important to remember that it takes more than just land to protect a rhino, it takes a whole community! That’s why Lewa is working with its neighbouring communities to get everyone involved. Locals help Lewa keep track of the rhinos and provide important intelligence information concerning intended rhino threats.

To find out more visit ‘Let’s Meet Lewa’ or and be sure to check back soon for another update from Lewa!

Earth Rangers is a non-profit organization that works to inspire and educate children about the environment. At kids can play games, discover amazing facts, meet animal ambassadors and fundraise to protect biodiversity.