9 Differences Between Northern and Southern White Rhino

Among the 5 species of rhinoceros, the white rhinos are the biggest. It has 2 distinct subspecies that are northern and southern. These two are entirely different from one another.
But how are they different? Today we discuss key differences between northern and southern white rhinos.

differences between northern and southern white rhino

Northern White Rhino vs Southern White Rhino – Comparison Chart

Comparison withNorthern White RhinoSouthern White Rhino
Scientific ClassificationCeratotherium simum cottoniCeratotherium simum simum
Weight1400 to 1600 kilograms (Adult males).1700 to 2700 kilograms (Adult males)
HornMales have thicker but shorter horns (24 inches). Females have thinner but longer horns
(50 inches maximum).
Males have thicker but shorter horns (24 inches). Females have thinner but longer horns (59 inches maximum).
HeadStraight skullConcave skull
BackStraight backConcave back
HairHairier ears and tailsMore body hair
HumpFlat humpProminent hump
PopulationOnly 2 femalesAbout 19600 to 21000
ConservationListed as “Critically endangered” but are extinctListed as “Near Threatened”

Northern vs Southern White Rhino – Physical Comparison

White rhinoceros are rather grey in color than white. Their northern and southern counterparts are however completely different from one another in many aspects.

Weight: The northern ones are quite smaller than their southern counterparts. Their adult males used to weigh about 1400 to 1600 kilograms. But now none of them are alive. Thanks to the poachers out there.

northern white rhinoceros

The southern average male can grow up to an astounding 2700 kilograms and females can grow up to 2000 kilograms.

southern white rhinoceros

Horn: Northern white rhinos have smaller front horns.

Southern counterparts have larger front horns.

Head: Both the animals have massive heads. However, northern ones have flat skulls and long faces.

Southern ones have concave skulls and rather round faces.


Northern white rhinoceroses used to live in the grassy plains of Uganda, Namibia, Sudan, Chad, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. But that is the only history now. Today only two of them remain in the world, that too in a conservancy in Kenya.

Most of the southern white rhinoceroses (about 98%) live in South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Kenya. They are found browsing in the grasslands and savannahs.


Only 2 northern white rhinos are alive on the planet today.

About 19600 to 21000 southern species are roaming the wilds of South Africa.

The rarest Rhino species

The 2 northern white rhinos are considered to be the rarest rhinoceros species on earth. They are named, Najin and Fatu. Najin and Fatu are currently living in the OI Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. They are under constant observation and protection from poachers.

The only 2 of these beasts alive today are females. The last living male Sudan died back in 2018. He was 45 years old and died of natural causes. The two females left today are the daughter and the granddaughter of Sudan. They are known as “the living dead” and their future is bleak.

The living females are unable to carry children. The older one has a defect in its back legs resulting in the incapability of carrying the weight of a calf along with hers. Her daughter however has internal problems that made her incapable of pregnancy.

The species went extinct 20 years ago. They were poached in massive numbers. Sudan was the last animal of his kind to be captured from the wild.

Interbreeding between the two White rhino species

The two female northern white rhino are clearly extinct and are in no position to bear a child. Their species going extinct is only a matter of time. As a result, scientists are being forced to think of interbreeding procedures between the southern and the northern white rhinos. It is the only way to save the dying species. But the reality isn’t so easy as it sounds.

There are complications. Sperms were collected and carefully conserved from the dead males. But to create a new life the female eggs are also necessary. In fact, the egg is where the sperm needs to be put in.

But it is quite impossible to set the sperm inside the ovary of the female without a male. Complications can arise from trying artificially. Previously many attempts have failed. The wound from such trials can start heavy internal bleeding resulting in the death of the female.
Despite all the drawbacks, interbreeding programs are still in action. Trials are still going.

Scientists are not losing hope. The last 2 living females may not know it yet but one of them can be the one to save their entire species.


There are distinctive differences between the northern and the southern white rhinoceroses. Earlier they were considered to be the same but now we know they are two different counterparts. We also know that one of them needs to be saved by any means possible.

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Clay Traynor

Hello, I am Clay, a Zoophilist, Researcher, and Writer. I Write interesting and unknown facts about animal life, habitat, and health.

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