Two subspecies of the white rhinoceros are recognized: the southern white rhino, (SWR) C. s. simum, and the northern white rhino, (NWR) C. s. cottoni.
Two subspecies of the white rhinoceros are recognized: the southern white rhino, (SWR) C. s. simum, in southern Africa, and the northern white rhino, (NWR) C. s. cottoni.
Northern white rhinos are relatively smaller in weight and body length than southern white rhinos, yet the southern subspecies has fewer body hairs than their northern counterparts. The southern race has copious, if sparse, body-hair which can easily be detected by running the hand along the animal’s back and flanks, while the northern species has a lack of body-hair. Each subspecies of white rhinoceros has a strikingly discontinuous range.
Historically, the northern white rhino used to range over parts of northwestern Uganda, southern Chad, south-western Sudan, the eastern part of Central African Republic, and north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Southern white rhinos were native to all of southern Africa, however, the current range of this subspecies is much more restricted. Sizeable southern white rhino populations occur in the African government-protected areas of greater Kruger National Park of South Africa, which incorporates additional private and state reserves, Milwane Game Sanctuary of Swaziland, Murchison Falls National Park of Uganda, Meru National Park of Kenya, and Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park. They also occur in numerous state-protected areas and private reserves, some of which are also well protected throughout the country. There are smaller reintroduced populations within the historical range of the species in Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Swaziland, while a small number survive in Mozambique. Populations of southern white rhino have also been introduced outside of the known former range of the subspecies to Kenya, Uganda, and to Zambia.
Sources: (Dulal, 2017; Emslie, 2012; Emslie & Brooks, 1999; Emslie, Milledge, & Brooks, 2007; Estes, 1991; Groves, 1972; Koopmans, 2012; Nowak, 1972; Pienaar, 1994; Sidney, 1965; Skinner & Chimimba, 2006)
Image: Diana Robinson