Rhino Hunting

Rhino hunting is an expensive business and only a relatively few hunters hunt this animal. Both the black and white rhino occur in Africa and both species were saved from extinction by the carefully planned breeding and research programmes run by a variety of game departments, notably the one in Kwa Zulu Natal. These programmes were largely financed by the game departments allowing certain individual males of the species that were too old to breed and were attacking younger males to be sport hunted. About 50% of male rhinos die as a result of fights with other rhinos.

"Rhinos have given me more bad moments - and more laughs - than all other big-game animals together. They are nervous, fretful, itchy, dim-witted creatures with extraordinary hearing, a keen sense of smell, and eyesight so poor that they can see but a few yards beyond their front horns; and half the time those horns interfere with what little vision they do have." Alexander Lake

Rhino Trophy Minimums

There are historical SCI and Rowland Ward records for the northern white rhino but this subspecies is no longer huntable.

SCI does keep records for hunters who dart-hunted black and white rhino but this practice has been banned since 2010 in South Africa and is completely illegal in Namibia too.

Ceratotherium simum simum (Southern White / Square-Lipped Rhino)
RW Minimum RW Record RW Measurement Method SCI Minimum SCI Record SCI Measurement Method
28" 621/4" 15 70" 1076/8" 8
Diceros bicornis (Black / Hooked-Lip Rhino)
RW Minimum RW Record RW Measurement Method SCI Minimum SCI Record SCI Measurement Method
24" 531/2" 15 56" 892/8" 8

Where To Hunt A Rhino

You can hunt southern white rhinos and black rhinos in Namibia and South Africa.

In South Africa both rhinos require a TOPS permit to be obtained before the hunt.

Both South Africa and Namibia each have a CITES export quota of 5 male black rhino hunting trophies. There is currently no set quota for white rhino trophies from these countries.

Rhino Trophy Permits (2015) At A Glance

Rhino Trophy Permits
Namibia Black RhinoCITES ICITES I Import PermitAnnex A + CITES Import PermitNo Import
Namibia White RhinoCITES ICITES I Import PermitAnnex A + CITES Import PermitNo Import
South Africa Black RhinoCITES ICITES I Import PermitAnnex A + CITES Import PermitNo Import
South Africa White RhinoCITES IICITES II Export PermitAnnex B + CITES Import PermitNo Import

Rhino Hunting Prices

Prices for all rhino hunts are 'on request' and generally depend on the length of horn.

Rhino Dart Hunts

  • You may find the odd 'green' or dart hunt for rhino still being offered by a few outfitters in Namibia or South Africa.
  • In Namibia these hunts are not legal as the drugs used to anaesthetise rhinos are now only allowed to be handled by registered veterinarians.
  • In South Africa, dart hunting a rhino was made illegal in 2010 as it was being abused by some operators - the same rhinos were being darted far too many times a year for spurious 'medical' or 'conservation' reasons.
  • Now enterprising rhino operators are offering what are known as rhino 'vita-dart hunts'. This is where the hunting client pops the rhino with a dart loaded with vitamins, after having the experience of stalking the animal. After the rhino has had it's dose of vitaimins, a licensed veterinarian steps in to dart the rhino with an anaesthetic in order to complete any medical tests or treatments. The client may then get his trophy pictures with the rhino.
  • If you are thinking of doing one of these rhino adventures in South Africa, you must have a TOPS permit issued in your name, well before the hunt begins. This permit is also to ensure that there is a legitimate reason for a particular rhino to be darted, which may include medical tests, medical treatments, moving a rhino to a different area or micro-chipping it. You cannot be fussy about the horn length, size or gender of the rhino you dart with vitamins - the 'hunt' has to be conducted on the specific rhino that needs to be anaesthetised at that time.
  • In case you get lucky and vita-dart a rhino with a really big horn, SCI does accept vita-darted rhino in their records for Darted White Rhinos & Darted Black Rhinos.
  • You can do a 'vita-dart' white rhino hunt for a 'trophy fee' of about US$8500. Black rhino vita-dart hunt availability is rather limited with prices on request.

Rhino Hunting Methods

  • Rhino hunting is usually by following fresh tracks on foot.
  • Rhino have an excellent sense of hearing and smell, but their eyesight is relatively bad. They make up for this by adopting the policy of charging anything that provokes suspicion.
  • Large calibres and solid, preferably monolithic solid bullets are essential when hunting these species.

A Good Rhino Trophy

  • The rhino you hunt is usually pre-selected with a known horn length, measured on the occasions it would have been darted. Only an old rhino bull which is well past breeding age and is likely to be a menace to any younger bulls, should be hunted.
  • Long horns do not always equate to old age as horns do get worn down.
  • Females tend to have longer thinner horns than the males.

Rhino Hunting Shot Placement

  • The heart on these animals (rather like a big cat) is slightly further back and slightly lower than most mammals. Use the half and half rule as usual and you'll find the heart in the lowest quarter.

Rhino Bull Vital Statistics

Rhino Bull Vital Statistics
  Southern White Rhino Black Rhino
Shoulder Height63-73"

Rhino Habitat And Requirements

  • The black rhino can tolerate a wide range of habitats as long as there are areas of dense bush with water, mud wallows and a canopy of around 4 metres high. This animal is a browser.
  • The southern white rhino prefers grassy areas interspersed with small areas of bush and plentiful water. This animal is a grazer.

Rhino Social Structure

  • Black rhinos are usually solitary and only come together for breeding purposes.
  • Southern white rhinos are considerably more passive and sociable than their black cousins. Bulls defend defined territories against other bulls, but will only tolerate subordinate bulls if they remain submissive. The home range of cows will overlap several bulls territories and when a female comes into oestrus, the territorial bull will try to keep her within his territory. Once a cow has given birth, she will stay with the father and form a small family unit until the baby is old enough to leave home. They are very much creatures of habit and will follow the same paths day after day.

Rhino Gestation Period

  • 15 to 16 months, after which a single calf of approximately 40 kgs is born
  • No fixed breeding season.

Rhino Gender Identification

  • In the case of both rhinos it is extremely difficult to see the sexual organs, even from a close range.
  • The female tends to have longer, thinner horns than the male.
  • The most certain way of checking is by watching them urinate and their behaviour after they defecate. The bull will habitually scrape the ground with his hind feet, rather like a domestic dog.

Differences Between Black & White Rhino

  • The main difference is the shape of their mouths. The white rhino has wide square lips and the black rhino has small hooked lips.
  • The names of both rhino are misleading - it is not a reference to their colour. They are both grey, or the colour of the mud wallow they use. The word 'white' in the name is a misinterpretation of the Afrikaans word 'wyd' (Dutch wijd) meaning wide, referring to the square lip. There is no good reason why the black rhino was named as such - possibly it was named after being seen wallowing in black mud or if one type is white the other must be black.
  • The body shape is also different. White rhinos are overall larger than the black rhinos with bigger heads, longer necks and have a sloping back. Black rhinos have a straight back with a dip in the middle.
Click Image To Enlarge
Southern White Rhino
Southern White Rhino

Black Rhino
Black Rhino

Rhino Trophy Taxidermy

Most hunters go for a shoulder mount for a rhino trophy as a full mount takes a lot of space even in a big trophy room.

Security regarding displaying the real rhino horn can be an issue with thieves stopping at nothing to get their hands on a rhino horn. Taxidermists can create replica horns for the mount so the genuine one can be locked away.

Click images to enlarge
Rhino Full Mount Rhino shoulder Mount Rhino Horn Shield Mount
Taxidermy photos courtesy of Life-Form Taxidermy

Rhino Hunting Recommended Reading


Hunter by J A Hunter are the extraordinary adventures of one of the last and greatest of Africa's white hunters. Working on behalf of the Game Commission, Hunter became the world record holder for rhino kills, as he cleared the animals out of districts to be opened for cultivation.

Rhino Hunting Recommended Viewing

Capstick: Hunting the White Rhino DVD

Capstick: Hunting the White Rhino DVD. Capstick describes the history of the rhinoceros, compares the white and black rhino, and narrates important historical footage of the transplantation program by the Natal Parks Board that was largely responsible for the great increase in the population of white rhinos since 1962. Then the hunting starts for a trophy bull white rhino in the Thabazimbi area of South Africa. 70 mins.

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