The Southern white rhinoceros is one of the two subspecies of the White rhinoceros; it is the most common and widespread subspecies of rhinoceros. Southern white rhinos are one of the largest and heaviest land animals in the world. They have an immense body and large head, a short neck and broad chest. On their snout, they have two horns. The front horn is larger than the other horn and averages 60 cm (24 in) in length and can reach 150 cm (59 in). Females usually have longer but thinner horns than the males which are larger but shorter. Southern white rhinos also have a prominent muscular hump that supports their large head. These animals can range in color from yellowish brown to slate grey. Southern white rhinos have the distinctive flat broad mouth that is adapted for grazing short grasses on the savannah.
Southern white rhinos are found in southern Africa, ranging from South Africa to Zambia. They live in the grasslands and savannahs
Southern white rhinos are mainly social animals. They aggregate in small herds that consists of females and juvenile calves. Male usually remain solitary; they maintain territories that don't overlap with territories of other males. These territories are marked by urine spray and dung and are defended from other males. Females can move freely between these territories. However, during the mating season, females become aggressive, especially when trying to protect their calf. Southern white rhinos are active during the day and spend about half of the day feeding. These animals have poor eyesight, but a very sharp sense of hearing and smell. When threatened they get extremely aggressive and can charge at speeds of 56 kph (35 mph).
Little is known about the mating system in Southern white rhinos. The breeding season occurs throughout the year but females reproduce once in 2-3 years. They give birth to a single calf after the gestation period that lasts around 16 months. Newborn calves weigh about 45 kg (100 pounds) at birth. They begin to eat grass a few weeks after birth but nurse until they are 18 months old. The mother and calf stay very close to each other and little rhinos always walk in front of their mothers. Young usually become independent in 2-3 years when the next calf is born.
Southern white rhinos are threatened by the habitat loss, continuous poaching in recent years and the high illegal demand for rhino horn for commercial purposes. These animals also suffer from use in traditional Chinese medicine.
According to Wikipedia resource, the total population size of Southern white rhinos is around 19,682-21,077 individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List but its numbers today are increasing.
Southern white rhinos play a very important role in the ecosystem the live. They are the most important herbivores across their range that graze on a vast amount of grasses. These animals help to increase the biodiversity of grasses and potentially prevent wildfires. In addition, Southern white rhinos have a tight friendship with several bird species, as they feed on the insects, and parasites that are present in the hide and on the back of rhinos.