White Rhino Vocalizations

After releasing white rhinos into the Okavango Delta, Botswana early one morning, we drove through the delta tracking radio signals of the newly released individuals.  Much to our surprise, only a few hours after release, we came around a bend and found one of our new girls face-to-face with one of the established bulls. There was quite a bit of huffing and puffing going on as the two met for the first time. What was even more interesting about this meeting was that the bull had probably traveled 5-10km from where he had been earlier that morning and was out of his normal range, which might indicate that he knew there were newcomers in the area and wanted to come assess the situation!

White rhino use many different methods of communication.  They rely heavily on urine marking and dung middens to deposit and pick up messages from other individuals in the area.  Males mark their territory by spraying urine and scraping their dung.  Females advertise their reproductive status to males through their urine as well.

White rhinos also utilize a variety of vocalizations to communicate.  Most of these vocalizations are different types of breathing, from deep, guttural huffs to sharp, short exhalations.  Some of these forceful exhalations can create a sound that carries over considerable distances.

During fights, white rhinos will curl their lips back and make a sound similar to but louder than a long growl.  At the height of conflict, they can also make a noise like a loud, high-pitched scream.  Young calves will often squeak to their mothers or to each other, short high pitched squeaks that can become longer squeals if they are frustrated or feel the are being ignored. 





Content provided by Canisius College students under the direction of Michael Noonan, PhD.