The Recently Extinct Plants and Animals Database

Ceratotherium simum cottoni Lydekker, 1908:319

Northern white rhino(ceros), Nile rhino(ceros), Square-lipped rhino(ceros), Northern square-lipped rhino(ceros), Cotton’s white rhino(ceros), Cross's rhino(ceros) (archaic)



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonyms: Ceratotherium cottoni Lydekker, 1908:319; Diceros simus cottoni Lydekker, 1908:319; Rhinoceros simus cottoni Lydekker, 1908:319


Conservation Status

Extinct in the wild. Functionally extinct. Only 2 females (mother and daughter) remain in captivity.

2006 (sighting); 2007 (indirect signs of their presence)

IUCN RedList status: Critically Endangered



In 1996 there were 31 Northern white rhinos in Garamba National Park. Fast forward a decade and the last observation of this subspecies in the wild was in 2006. Although indirect signs of their presence were recorded in 2007 (Emslie, 2011).
With the death of Sudan, the world's last male Northern white rhino, the species is now considered functionally extinct. With merely two females, his daughter and granddaughter, still alive.



Africa (Central African Republic, DR Congo, Sudan, Uganda)












Original scientific description:

Lydekker, Richard. (1908). The white rhinoceros. The Field (London) 111: 319.


Other references:

Anthony, Lawrence and Spence, Graham. (2012). The last rhinos: my battle to save one of the world's greatest creatures. New York: Thomas Dunne Books. 327 pp.

Backhaus, D. (1964). Zum Verhalten des nördlichen Breitmaulnashornes (Diceros simus cottoni Lydekker, 1908). Zool. Garten 29: 93-107.

Ben-Nun IF, Montague SC, Houck ML, et al. (2011). Induced pluripotent stem cells from highly endangered species. Nat Methods 8: 829-836.

Brooks, M. (2010). African rhino specialist group report. Pachyderm 48: 8-15.

Cinková, I. and Bičík, V. (2013). Social and reproductive behaviour of critically endangered northern white rhinoceros in a zoological garden. Mamm Biol 78: 50-54.

Cinková, I. and Policht, R. (2014). Contact Calls of the Northern and Southern White Rhinoceros Allow for Individual and Species Identification. PLoS ONE 9(6): e98475.

Dollmann, J. Guy. (1937). Mammals which have recently become extinct and those on the verge of extinction. J. Soc. Preserv. Fauna Empire n. s. 30: 67-74.

Emslie, R. (2011). Ceratotherium simum ssp. cottoni. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. ( Downloaded on 16 June 2012.

Emslie, R. (2012). Ceratotherium simum. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. ( Downloaded on 03 March 2013.

Emslie R, Brooks M (1999) African Rhino. Status survey and conservation action plan. IUCN/SSC African Rhino Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge.

Foster, J. B. (1967a). The square-lipped rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum cottoni (Lydekker) in Uganda. East African Wildl. Jour. 5: 167-170.

Foster, J. B. (1967b). The Square-lipped rhino (Ceratotherium simum cottoni (Lydekker) in Uganda. African Journal of Ecology 5(1): 167-171.

Gippoliti, Spartaco, Cotterill, Fenton P. D., Zinner, Dietmar and Groves, Colin P. (2017). Impacts of taxonomic inertia for the conservation of African ungulate diversity: an overview. Biological Reviews. doi: 10.1111/brv.12335

Gippoliti, Spartaco and Groves, Colin P. (2020). Cryptic Problematic Species and Troublesome Taxonomists: A Tale of the Apennine Bear and the Nile White Rhinoceros, pp. 509-527. In: Angelici, F. and Rossi, L. (eds.). Problematic Wildlife II. Cham: Springer. [pdf version]

Groves, Colin P. (1972). Ceratotherium simum. Mammalian Species 8: 1-6.

Groves, Colin P. (1975). Taxonomic notes on the White Rhinoceros Ceratotherium simum (Burchell, 1817). Säugetierkundl Mitt: 23: 200-212. [relevant citation?]

Groves, C.P., Fernando, P. and Robovský, J. (2010). The Sixth Rhino: A Taxonomic Re-Assessment of the Critically Endangered Northern White Rhinoceros. PLoS ONE 5(4): e9703.

Harley, Eric H., de Waal, Margaretha, Murray, Shane and O'Ryan, Colleen. (2016). Comparison of whole mitochondrial genome sequences of northern and southern white rhinoceroses (Ceratotherium simum): the conservation consequences of species definitions. Conservation Genetics. doi:10.1007/s10592-016-0861-2

Heller, E. (1913). The white rhinoceros. Smith. Misc. Coll. 61(1): 1-56.

Heppes, J. B. (1958). The white rhinoceros in Uganda. African Wildlife 12: 273-280.

Hermes R, Hildebrandt TB, Blottner S, Walzer C, Silinski S, et al. (2005) Reproductive soundness of captive southern and northern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum, C.s. cotttoni): evaluation of male genital tract morphology and semen quality before and after cryopreservation. Theriogenology 63: 219-238.

Hermes R, Hildebrandt TB, Walzer C, Göritz F, Patton ML, et al. (2006) The effect of long non-reproductive periods on the genital health in captive female white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum, C.s. cottoni). Theriogenology 65: 1492–1515.

Hillman-Smith, K., Mankoto ma Oyisenzoo and Smith, F. (1986). A last chance to save the northern white rhino? Oryx 20(1):20–26, figs. 1–3, map 1, table 1.

Joslin, Paul and Maryanka, Daphne. (1968). Endangered Mammals of the World: Report on Status and Action Treatment. IUCN Publications, New Series, Supplementary Paper No. 13: 34 pp.

Knight MH (2013) African rhino specialist group report. Pachyderm 54: 8-27. [relevant citation?]

Korody, Marisa L. et al. (2021). Rewinding Extinction in the Northern White Rhinoceros: Genetically Diverse Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Bank for Genetic Rescue. Stem Cells and Development 30(4): 177-189.

Lydekker, R. 1908. The white rhinoceros. Field 22nd February 1908, 319.

Mikulica V (1991) Social behaviour in two captive groups of white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum and Ceratotherium simum cottoni). Zoologische Garten N. F. 61: 365-385.

Yoshan Moodley, Isa-Rita M. Russo, Jan Robovský, Desiré L. Dalton, Antoinette Kotzé, Steve Smith, Jan Stejskal, Oliver A. Ryder, Robert Hermes, Chris Walzer, Michael W. Bruford. (2018). Contrasting evolutionary history, anthropogenic declines and genetic contact in the northern and southern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum). Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 285(1890): 20181567 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2018.1567

Naish, Darren. (3 May, 2010). A new species of modern-day rhinoceros. Blog post at Tetropod Zoology, available from [accessed 5 May, 2018]

Policht R, Tomášová K, Holečková D, Frynta D (2008) The vocal repertoire in northern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum cottoni) as recorded in the last surviving herd. Bioacoustics 18: 69-96.

Reid, C. (2006). Aerial Survey – Garamba National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo. APF/ICCN Report.

Rookmaaker, Kees. (2003). Why the name of the white rhinoceros is not appropriate. Pachyderm 34: 88-93.

Rookmaaker, Kees and Antoine, Pierre-Olivier. (2012). New maps representing the historical and recent distribution of the African species of rhinoceros: Diceros bicornis, Ceratotherium simum and Ceratotherium cottoni. Pachyderm 52: 91-96.

Ryder, Oliver A. et al. (2020). Exploring the limits of saving a subspecies: The ethics and social dynamics of restoring northern white rhinos (Ceratotherium simum cottoni). Conservation Science and Practice.

Saragusty, J., Diecke, S., Drukker, M., Durrant, B., Friedrich Ben-Nun, I., Galli, C., Göritz, F., Hayashi, K., Hermes, R., Holtze, S., Johnson, S., Lazzari, G., Loi, P., Loring, J. F., Okita, K., Renfree, M. B., Seet, S., Voracek, T., Stejskal, J., Ryder, O. A. and Hildebrandt, T. B. (2016). Rewinding the process of mammalian extinction. Zoo Biol.. doi: 10.1002/zoo.21284 [Abstract]

Schomber, H. W. (1966). Die Verbreitung und der Bestand des zentralafrikanischen Breitmaul-nashorns, Ceratotherium simum cottoni (Lydekker, 1908). Säugetierkundliche Mitteilungen 14: 214-227, figs. 1-4, tables 1-12.

Scott, Peter (ed.). (1965). Preliminary List of Rare Mammals and Birds, pp. 155-237. In: The Launching of a New Ark. First Report of the President and Trustees of the World Wildlife Fund. An International Foundation for saving the world's wildlife and wild places 1961-1964. London: Collins.

Tunstall, Tate et al. (2018). Evaluating recovery potential of the northern white rhinoceros from cryopreserved somatic cells. Genome Research. doi: 10.1101/gr.227603.117

Van den Bergh, W. (1955). Nos rhinocéros blancs (Ceratotherium simum cottoni Lydekker). Zool. Garten 21: 129-151.

van Gyseghem R (1984) Observations on the ecology and behaviour of the northern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum cottoni). Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde 49: 348–358.

Wheater, Roger J. and Parker, Ian S. C. (2019). The fate of Uganda’s Northern white rhino translocated to Murchison Falls National Park in 1961 and 1964. Pachyderm 60: 112-117. [automatic download]

Xu X, Arnason U (1997) The complete mitochondrial DNA sequence of the white rhinoceros, Ceratotherium simum, and comparison with the mtDNA sequence of the Indian rhinoceros, Rhinoceros unicornis. Mol Phylogenet Evol 7: 189-194. [relevant citation?]

Last chance to save the Northern White Rhino, official website:


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