Today we celebrate that rhino Colin is nine months old. Each day we marvel at the fighting spirit of Colin's mum Thandi. She survived a brutal poaching in March 2012 and is now the mother of two healthy rhinos.
Last month we joined rangers Jo and Daniel on World Rhino Day when they went out to find this white rhino family. There were a number of signs used by the field guides to help them locate the duo. Here are some of the differences between black and white rhinos and how safari rangers tell them apart.
Five Key Differences Between Black and White Rhino
Dung: In our video on World Rhino Day last month ranger Jo showed us a white rhino midden and their dung. As white rhinos eat mostly grass, this is what is found in their dung. Black rhino eat leaves and branches and so twigs are found in their dung. The dung of a black rhino is brown. A white rhino's dung is actually almost black due to the melanin in the grass that they eat.
Size: White rhinos are much bigger than black rhinos. A female white rhino, like Thandi, can weigh up to 1,700 kilograms. When Colin is fully grown, he will likely weigh up to 2,300 kilograms. The smaller black rhino weighs between 800 and 1,400 kg.
Mouth: The lovely photo of Thandi and calf Colin shows the shape of a white rhino very clearly. Thandi's bottom lip is square and wide as it is used like a lawnmower to graze on grass. Black rhino's have a hooked or pointed lip. This adaptation helps them to grip the branches of the shrubs that they eat.
Ears: The photo also beautifully illustrates the long and tubular ears of the white rhino. Their ears swivel independently which further assists them to hear very well. White rhinos have very poor eyesight and so excellent hearing is very important for awareness and safety. The black rhino's ears are smaller and rounder in shape.
Horns: Although both the black and white rhino have two horns, generally the white rhino's front horn is longer than the back horn and it is the other way around in black rhinos. You will notice that rhino Thandi does not have any horns. This is because they were hacked off by poachers and she was left to bleed to death. Rhino horn has become a hugely valuable commodity and three rhino continue to be killed each day in South Africa alone. The horn of a rhino is made out of keratin, the same substance in our nails and hair. It has been proven that this has no medicinal qualities. To protect the rhino at Kariega we have made the difficult decision to regularly remove their horns for this safety. Rhino Colin will have this procedure when the time comes.