Black and White Rhinos: What's the Difference?


When you go on an African safari, you can see countless animal species on your trip, but two of the most interesting are the black and white rhinos. Because both creatures have three horns, it can be easy to confuse the two, but there are actually some big differences between these species that you may find interesting. Learning how to tell these two rhino species apart will help you make sure you see each on your trip. Learn the differences between the white and black rhinos before you book an African safari so that you’ll be ready for your vacation.

Rhino Sizes
Although there are several important differences between the white and black rhino, the easiest to spot for non-zoologists is their size. White rhinos are the second largest rhino species in the world, trailing slightly behind the greater one-horn rhino. A male white rhino can grow up to six feet tall at the shoulder and weigh up to 5,100 pounds, and the females of the species can weigh up to 3,700 pounds and stand five feet eight inches at the shoulder. Males can be 13 feet long and females 12 feet long.

Black rhinos are smaller than their white counterparts in terms of weight. An adult black rhino, male or female, can weigh up to 3,100 pounds. Black rhinos can be as tall as six feet and up to twelve feet long, just like white rhinos.

Lip Shape
Besides weight, the primary difference between these two rhino species is the shape of their lips, which impacts how they feed. Learning these two lip shapes will make it easier to identify each species on your safari.

The pointed upper lip of the black rhino means this species eats by browsing, much like elephants. The black rhino uses the shape of its lip to grab leaves from bushes and trees, which is similar to how an elephant uses its trunk. So, if you see a rhino eating from a tree, it’s a black rhinoceros.

White rhinos, on the other hand, have an upper lip that is square shaped, which causes them to graze for their food. These rhinos get their food close to the ground, and use their square lip to cut grass for consumption. If you’ve ever seen a cow grazing in a field, you have some idea of what it looks like when a white rhino eats.

Group Behavior
Another way to identify these two rhinos is whether they travel alone or in a group. Black rhinos prefer solitude and will generally travel on their own. The only exception is whether it’s a female black rhino and her offspring. You will usually see white rhinos in a group. If you’re on your African safari and see a rhino on its own, it is likely a black rhino. If you see a group of rhinos in the same area, then you’re looking at white rhinos.

Rhinos are some of the most interesting animals in the world, and the best way to see these creatures is on a safari.
Book your African safari today so that you can see both black and white rhinos in the wild.

The Myth of the Big Five

see the big five in botswana
The myth of the Big Five lives in every safari booking and they are on top of every bucket list of safari guests. The Big Five are the leopard, the elephant, the buffalo, the lion and the rhino (actually the black rhino, but the white rhino is also accepted). They are the most difficult and with the most danger involved animals to hunt on foot.

The term comes originally from
big game hunters, but has been adopted and brought to mystic heights through African safari tourism. Who does not want to see the elusive leopard, hard to find and quickly gone when he/she doesn’t want to be seen? The elephants are often seen as the cuddly giants, but an unhappy elephant is rather dangerous than cute. Buffalos don’t give a warning, they just chase suddenly and some game drive vehicles have experienced that, fortunately with little danger for the guests. The big male lion is the wildlife photographers dream, hopefully with the great light of the golden hour and with majestic posture. And then the rhino, threatened by poachers for their horns, they are impressive animals from pre-historic times, difficult to get good pictures from, that capture their beauty and personality.

One animal, that is often mixed up with the Big Five is the cheetah. The
cheetah is not part of the Big Five, as they are not difficult to hunt, although who would like to hunt anyway any of these amazing animals. Fortunately times have changed and is the hunt prohibited in some African countries. Yet there is still lots of work to do, to ensure the Big Five will be around for safaris also for future generations. Hunting with the camera is luckily easier and provides joy for everyone, the photographer and the animal.