The rarest and the most endangered of the big five animals the rhinoceros comes in five different species. Two of these are African and the other three Asian. They have either two or one horns which are prized in East Asian magic and has led to the animals becoming severely poached.

Seeing a Rhino in the wild is a great experience and even more so now that there are very few left. There are about 20,000 white rhinos in Africa and less than 100 Javan rhinoceros. You are most likely to see them in Southern Africa but sightings of the Indian one-horned rhino are common in Chitwan National Park in Nepal and East African Parks still have viable though small populations.

Africa

In Africa there are two species of rhino, the black and the white. They are not distinguished by their color. The term ‘white’ is often taken to mean wide from the Afrikaans/Dutch word ‘wyd’. This was in reference to the animals mouth which is wide as used for grazing, that is eating grass. The black rhino, though not really and darker than its cousin, is a browser. That is it eats leaves and shoots from plants and has a correspondingly narrower snout and lips.

The Southern White Rhino is the most abundant and is seen easily around southern Africa in parks like Kruger NP. The Northern subspecies  on the other hand has no confirmed individuals in the wild.

The smaller black rhino is critically endangered across its range from East Africa to the Cape. As well as its mouth shape being different it can be distinguished from the white rhino not by skin color but by its smaller size and subtly different body shape. Given that you are unlikely now to see the two side by side it takes an expert to tell them apart form a distance.

Asia

The Indian Rhino that lives in Indian and Nepal is the most numerous of the three Asian species. There are less than 3000 left in the wild. Its distinguishing feature is its single horn compared to the Africans’ two and its shoulder plates. It has thick folds of skin that look like armor on is shoulders and make it look like something prehistoric.

It is relatively easy to see an Indian rhino in the national parks of Nepal and Northern India. They live in the tropical grasslands at the foot of the Himalayas.

The two Indonesian rhinos, the Sumatran and the Javan are critically endangered with only 250 and 50 remaining depending on the survey. It is after all very difficult to count accurately. They are jungle rhinos and survive in the tropical jungles of their respective islands. This makes them quite difficult to find disregarding the limited numbers.