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Meet Pepper – a baby Southern White Rhino

Werribee Open Range Zoo in Victoria, Australia, has welcomed a new female baby Southern White Rhino ( species name Ceratotherium simum) , born at 8.05pm AEST on Thursday 30 May.   The baby was born to mother SiSi and weighs a healthy 69 kilograms.   The baby will be hand raised.  Werribee Open Range Zoo is part of a regional breeding program for the Southern White Rhino.  The White Rhino is the most soical of the 5 species of Rhinoceros and has the most docile nature.

The other species of Rhino (abbreviation for Rhinoceros) are the Sumatran, Black, Greater Horned (or Indian), and Javan Rhinos.   Did you know Rhinoceros means “horned nose” from Rhino (or “nose”) and Ceros (for “horned”)?


Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Infraclass: Eutheria
Order: Perissodactyla
Suborder: Ceratomorpha
Superfamily: Rhinocerotoidea
Family: Rhinocerotidae
Gray, 1820

White Rhinos are divided into two distinct subspecies –  the Northern White Rhino and the Southern White Rhino.  The White Rhino is actually not white in color; the name is thought to be a result of mistaking the Afrikaans word “weit” (meaning “wide”) for “white.”   It is grey in colour.   The White Rhino’s weight ranges from 4,000 – 6,000 pounds, and it stands from 5 – 6 feet high at the shoulder.  End-to-end, the White Rhino can be 12.5 – 15 feet in length.   The Northern White Rhino is very close to disappearing from the wild.

With rhino poaching deaths far exceeding births, every calf born is incredibly important for this species.  White rhinos are a critically endangered species.  White Rhinos can live up to 50 years.

Kruger National Park, just north of Johannesburg, where SiSi came from, is now ground-zero in the battle against rhino poaching.  The park has lost more than 200 rhinos since the beginning of this year to illegal poaching (Kruger has lost 229 of the 313 rhinos killed this year).   Rhinoceroses are being hunted to death by poachers who will stop at nothing to kill them just to take their horns. The death toll is astonishing; last year alone, nearly 700 rhinos were killed with baby rhinos and calves separated from their mothers and left to fend on their own.

Park rangers and security forces in Kruger National Park are desperate for help.  South Africa is home to 90 percent of the world’s rhinos.

Meanwhile, Africa’s government, the Convention in Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), wildlife conservation groups, and anti-poaching bodies try to formulate an effective solution.   A 3 part documentary by Animal Planet, called “Battleground:  Rhino Wars“, while being somewhat “corny” or glamorising the role of 4 U.S. veterans in helping protect the Rhinos in the Park, by focusing on them hunting the hunters, as the veterans eagerly tote their guns in a bid to fight the “bad guys” (the poachers), it does raise some awareness of the desperate plight of the Rhinos of South Africa.

Yes,  some people do not respect the biodiversity of Planet Earth or respect all of Life or recognise our inter-connectedness, but also others let this extinction process happen.   Please help by urging organisations like the World Wildlife Fund to raise awareness to pressure local and international law enforcement to stop the flow of rhino horn and other illegal wildlife trade items from Africa to other regions of the world.

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