THE WHITE AND BLACK RHINOCEROS
Rhinos are odd-toed ungulates, like horses, their footprints are unmistakable, with three large toes. There are two distinct species of Rhinos, the so called white and black Rhinos, both are in fact grey. The latter’s name is a corruption of the Afrikaans word for “wide”, referring to its broad upper lip, which is designed for grazing. Black Rhinos have longer necks than white Rhinos which helps them to reach up in the vegetation for browsing. The white rhino’s relatively longer head enables it to reach the ground to graze.
African Rhinos have two long horns, one set behind the other. These are not bone, but tightly packed bundles of hair-like structures, similar to hooves and toenails, mounted on roughened areas of the skull. Apart from this, Rhinos are virtually hairless.
The Rhinos’ keen senses of smell and hearing compensate for their weak eye sight.They can turn their ears to locate any source of disturbance. Like other large bodied animals, Rhinos have potentially long life spams up to 50 years.
There are two distinct population ranges of white Rhinos. The northern rage that extends from South Sudan west Democratic Republic of Congo towards lake Chad. The Southern species occurs south of the Zambezi. There are marked differences between the two subspecies in the concavity of the forehead. Populations have not been contiguous in recent historical times.
Some populations of black rhino developed characteristic traits.”Gertie” and “Pixie” of Amboseli were famous for their remarkably long straight horns. The gene for such horns has now been poached out of existence, the population figures for both rhino species make depressing reading were by the northern white rhino once had a wide distribution, as late as 1960 there were more than 2,000 roaming the savannas of central Africa. But wide spread poaching ravaged the population and today there probably fewer than ten left in the wild all in Garamba National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo. The black rhino has not fared much better from around 70,000 in the 1960’s to 15,000 in the 1980’s and to around 5,000 today were 40 percent of them are in South Africa. Both the northern white and black rhino are classified as critically endangered.
Currently Rhinos are being gazetted at Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranch located in Nakasongola district which is the proud home of the only wild rhinos in Uganda. The Rhino re-introduction project is a project of Rhino Fund Uganda and Uganda Wildlife Authority.
They are conveniently located 176km (100 miles) north of Kampala on the Gulu highway towards Murchison Falls (branch off at Nakitoma trading centre). Ziwa is the only place where you will be able to see rhinos in the wild.
Presently the sanctuary is home to fifteen (15) southern white rhinos. The sanctuary has become increasingly popular with tourists, for Rhino trekking, bird watching, nature walks and relaxation.