Rhino Run Wines

Distinguishing between SA’s two endemic rhino species is by no means black and white. In fact, when it comes to the colour of their hides it’s pretty much all grey.

A popular theory holds that the animal we know and love today as the white rhino was initially named by Dutch explorers or settlers for its wide mouth. White rhinos are grazers, adapted for eating grass with their wide mouths. It would have made sense for the Europeans to name the animal after this feature to distinguish it from the other local species, with its hooked lips for browsing branches.

Somewhere along the line the Dutch word for ‘wide’ (‘wijd’) ended up as ‘white’ in English. The area’s other rhino species would then have ended up called ‘black’. While it seems like a plausible story, researchers have found no evidence in Dutch literature for this etymology. What is true, though, is that both black and white rhino are pretty much the same shade of grey.

Apart from the shape of their lips, the two species can also be distinguished by their body shapes. The white rhino has a longer neck and a bigger head and has a slightly sloping back with their shoulders standing taller than their hips.