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View from the Zoo: Both rhino species are on endangered list

Olmotti the black rhino is  pictured left, with Bruce the white rhino.
Olmotti the black rhino is pictured left, with Bruce the white rhino.

At Flamingo Land we are very lucky to have both black rhinoceros as well as white rhinoceros and this week we will be letting you know the differences between the two species.

We have four black rhinos, one 24-year-old male called Baringo and our three females, Olmoti who is three, Chanua, five, and Samira, 16. We also have two young male white rhinos called Bruce and Mabaso who are two and three respectively.

One big difference between the two species is the shape of their lip. White rhinos are grazers and have a very wide shaped lip which is very flexible and enables them to eat more grass in less time. However, black rhinos have developed a hooked lip which is designed to pick fruits and leaves from branches.

White Rhinos also have a longer forehead and are much larger and can weigh over 2,500kg whilst black rhinos tend to be between 1,000-1,500kg. Generally their horns tend to differ also.White rhinos usually have a longer front horn with a much shorter second horn. The black rhinos have a slightly shorter front horn and longer second horn.

The horn is an important tool, used for digging up roots, branches and for defence. It continues to grow as it is made of a protein called keratin, the same protein found in your hair and fingernails. They file it into a desired horn-shape by rubbing it against hard surfaces.

Their horns are sought after by poachers and as such both species are on the endangered list due to man – no other animal can kill an adult rhino.

The horns are mainly used in Asian medicines and for carving into ornaments.

It is currently illegal to trade rhino and their products internationally. As well as being hunted extensively for their horns, man is slowly destroying the rhino’s natural habitat. Left alone, the rhino can easily live to 45 years old.

At Flamingo Land we are attempting to breed black rhinos. A rhino is pregnant for 14 months, so it is a long term project.

The two white rhinos will be looked after here until they reach maturity around the age of seven when they can move on to be part of another zoo’s breeding programme.