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White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum) Fact Sheet: Distribution & Habitat


Historic distribution

  • Widely distributed across Africa
    • Rock art, fossil and skeletal remains found over Africa where grasslands were present, including parts of the Sahara
  • More recent distribution
    • During recorded history, no evidence to indicate a continuous distribution between northern and southern subspecies

Present distribution

  • Reduced and patchy
    • 2 disjunct populations
      • C. s. cottoni (northern white rhino)
        • Wild populations last sighted in Democratic Republic of Congo, 2008; possibly extinct
      • C. s. simum (southern white rhino) (IUCN 2012; Ferreira et al. 2015)
        • Majority of population in South Africa
          • c. 50% are in Kruger National Park
        • Populations reintroduced in Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique and Kenya
          • Mozambique population reported eradicated by poachers (Butler 2013)
        • Introduced population in Zambia


Grasslands also savannahs

  • Prefer open areas
    • Avoid closed forests, thick woody bushes, mesic areas with taller grass, and open plains without shade trees

Distribution Map

White Rhino distribution map

White Rhino distribution.
Adapted from according to IUCN fact sheet. Click here or on map for detailed distribution (IUCN).

Page Citations

Butler (2013)
Kingdon (1997)
Emslie and Brooks (1999)
IUCN (2012)
Ferreira et al. (2015)

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