White Rhinoceros vs Black Rhinoceros | The Differences Between Rhinos

August 19, 2021

The great rhino, once roaming the continents of Africa, Asia, and Europe and being around for so long that they are depicted on cave paintings in certain locations. Once a thriving species has become increasingly scarce in recent decades but they are still able to be seen in some locations around the world.

These majestic beasts are a spectacle to behold when being seen in their habitat but did you know that there are two different colours of rhino? To the average person, you would be forgiven for thinking that all rhinos are the same but a keen eye could tell the subtle differences between the two.

We will be looking at the differences between the white rhino and the black rhino below and provide you with some facts. Then on your next family vacation to Africa, you can impress your children with some knowledge and point out the different rhinos on your next rhino safari.

white rhino grazing in grassland

Black vs White Rhino Numbers

Rhinos have become the focus of global attention over the last few decades with both colours having faced difficulties with poaching their numbers dwindling due to poaching. Sadly, some species are near extinction and other critically endangered.

There is hope however with recent efforts in conservation meaning that southern white rhinos now thrive in sanctuaries. Unfortunately, the western black rhinos and northern white rhinos are currently extinct in the wild with only two Northern white females alive under 24-hour protection in Kenya.

So being able to tell the difference between a black rhinoceros and a white rhino is important as you could witness one of the rarest rhinos on safari and never know it.

How Many Black Rhinos are Left

Black rhinos are on the critically endangered list but have recovered a little in recent years with around 5600 known to be still alive. This is a massive success compared to their numbers two decades ago where they numbered half of what they do currently.

How Many White Rhinos are Left

In comparison to the black rhino, the white rhino has recovered from near extinction to now having a population of around 19 600 – and being now listed as near-threatened.

black rhino family in grassland

Differences Between Black and White Rhino

The world of rhinos is a grey area with all rhinos’ skin seemingly grey in colour, giving no indication if they are a black or white rhino. But the world of rhinos is very much black and white.

To help figure out which rhino is which, there are subtle cues that would make black rhinos and white rhinos stand out from one another

The upper lips are the easiest and most notorious way to tell the difference between the two rhinos. White rhino’s lips are square-shaped which makes it easier for them to graze on the plains of Africa.

The black rhino on the other hand has more of a pointed upper lip, known as the hook-lipped rhino, which helps them to pull the leaves off of trees and bushes while they browse for food.

So, if you see a rhino grazing in the bush, chances are it’s a white rhino and if you see a rhino nibbling on tree branches, it’s a black rhino.

white rhinos walking together in grassland

Rhino Size Comparison

Does size matter when it comes to rhinos? That’s for you to decide but in terms of sheer size and scale the black and white rhinos are different. Black rhinos weigh anywhere between 800kg – 1350kg and grow up to 1.7 meters tall and 3.8 meters in length.

Black rhinos have two horns with the front being larger than the rear and growing up to 1.3 meters long. The smaller front horn only grows up to 55cm in length. Their ears are also smaller, and rounder compared to the white rhino.

White rhinos are the significantly larger cousins of black rhinos weighing anywhere from 1800kg – 2700kg. They are also taller and longer growing up to 1.8 meters tall and 5 meters in length.

White rhinos also have two horns but another way to differentiate between the two is that the front horn is larger on a white rhino. The front horn grows up to 201cm tall with the rear horn only growing up to 55cm in length.

In contrast to the black rhino, the white rhino’s ears are narrower, more closed and pointed at the tips. This larger ear is an evolutionary adaptation for them as they have poor eyesight and a nose that is close to the ground so the ability to hear better is important.

white rhino walking along rocks

How Many Species of Rhino are There?

There are currently only five species of rhino left in the world with two species being in Africa and South Africa. The species that are left are:

  • Black rhino (Africa)
  • White rhino (Africa)
  • Javan rhino (Indonesia
  • Indian rhino or Greater one-horned rhino (India)
  • Sumatran rhino (Indonesia)

black rhino closeup with long horns

Where Do White Rhinoceros’ Live?

The majority of white rhinos (98.8%) live in southern and eastern Africa with most living in South Africa. They tend to reside in savannas, grasslands and other shrublands suiting their grazing feeding characteristic.

Where Do Black Rhinoceros’ Live?

The black rhino on the other hand also resides in southern and eastern Africa but living in a range of different environments. They prefer woodlands, forests and wetlands where there is an abundance of shrubs and plant life to suit their gathering eating habits. If you fancy a trip to see the rhinos in eastern Africa, then all you need to know about safaris in Kenya will be a great help.

white rhino family walking in grassland

Black vs White Rhino – Rarest Rhino

In the current world we live in we are moving at such a rapid pace. Sometimes we need to slow down and take a moment to appreciate the small things in life. We need to understand how things we take for granted today can be gone tomorrow.

Rhinos are among the most dignified and monumental mammals alive today. We should take a moment to appreciate them and witness them in their habitat, especially the black rhinos. If you feel the need to do just that, click here to experience the African bush and see if you can spot a few black and white rhinos with your friends and family.

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