CZAAWE Resource Article

The vocal repertoire in Northern white rhinoceros Ceratotherium simum cottoni as recorded in the last surviving herd
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
The Northern White Rhinoceros Ceratotherium simum cottoni is a subspecies of the White Rhino that is almost extinct in the wild. We studied the last reproducing herd kept in Zoo Dvur Kralove to describe its vocal repertoire. The calls produced by eight individuals were recorded and analysed as concerned both sound properties and behavioural contexts in which they were emitted. We distinguished 11 calls belonging to four categories: (1) tonal harmonic sounds, (2) puffing sounds, (3) growling sounds, and (4) repetitive sounds. We found an apparent similarity between acoustic parameters of homologous calls recorded in both white rhino subspecies. We further confirmed that the repertoire of white rhino calls is much larger than that reported in other rhino species. We tentatively interpret this finding as an adaptation to increased sociality. Four calls reach the infrasound range; nevertheless, they are probably not used for communication over distance. This is obvious in the case of the grouch call, which contains the highest infrasound component. There are, however, other candidates for such a communication function: the repetitive pant sound, which is not known in other rhino species. We hypothesise that the repetitions may enhance their audibility in the typical open habitats of white rhinos.