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Bush Elephant vs White Rhino Differences and Comparison

Bush Elephant vs White Rhino Differences and Comparison

Overview: Bush Elephant vs White Rhino

African Bush Elephant and White Rhinoceros is strong, large and powerful mammal; both belonging to sub-Saharan Africa. On the one side, Elephants have big tusks like their ancient ancestors’ mammoths, rhinoceros have two horns on their snout made of keratin a material of which hairs and nails are made of.

Both these animals have different anatomical structure, physical characteristics, behavioral traits and nature; but if an interesting question to your head that who would have won if they ever aggressively encounter each other. You have come to the right place; in this article we endeavor to determine who would win Elephant or Rhino in an animal duet by closely looking at their traits.

Physical Characteristics:

How does a Bush Elephant look like?

African Bush Elephants are the biggest of all elephant species and are the largest terrestrial mammal. An adult elephant can be 3.2-4 m in height and can weigh between 4,500-6,100 kg while females are smaller than their male counterparts; their average height is around 2.-2.6m and a weight range between 2,000-3,000 kg. Elephants have a large-wide heavy head, big ears, a trunk, pair of tusks, tail and are quadrupedal.

African elephants breathe with their trunk, as the trunk is muscular they also use it to pluck twigs and graze grass. They have wrinkled, thick and baggy skin which is mostly grey colored. 

How do white rhino looks like?

On the other side, white rhinos are also large mammals. White rhinos have a heavy head, two horns, a tail, a humped back, squared shaped lips and a long neck. The body length of white rhinos range between 3.35-3.77 m, height around 1.71-2.85 m and weigh about 1000-3600 kg. White rhinos have very sparsely distributed hairs; hairs are mainly found on the ear fringes and tail bristles. They have dense, hard, pale-grey skin having folds that bear a strong resemblance to Armour.


African Bush elephants live and move in herds; they are quite social. The herd of elephants is led by alpha female hence elephants are matriarch. Female elephants live in herds while the male bulls usually spend their life alone or live with other bulls. Male elephants become very aggressive during the mating season; however they are not territorial.

Generally, white rhinos are shy and peaceful but if any threat befall on them, they became extremely aggressive. Females with calves are way more aggressive than their male counterparts and other females. Male Rhinos live solitary life being territorial while females move in territories of different males.

african elephant
Large bull African Elephant in musth, flapping its ears while walking along road in Kruger National Park, South Africa.

Habitat and Geographical Distribution:

Where do Bush Elephants live?

African Bush Elephants are found in central and Southern Africa in the Ethiopian region. African Elephants live in varied habitats which include Savannah grasslands, rain forests, scrubby forests and can also be found traveling in the desert.

Where do rhinos prefer to live?

White rhinos prefer to live in dense forests, woodlands and savannas having sufficient grasslands.Two species of white rhinos live in Africa; the Northern White Rhino and Southern White Rhino. They are mainly found in Kenya, Namibia, Kenya, and South Africa.

white rhino
A solitary rhino grazing as it moves across the plain.


What do rhinos and elephants eat?

Both the African elephant and white rhinos are herbivorous; they eat grass, shrub, twigs, leaves, fruits etc. Without elephants around, the rhinos ate more diverse plants, such as succulents & woody shrubs. But when the elephants are near, rhinos restrain themselves and consume mostly grasses.

Fun Facts for kids:

Interesting facts about Rhinos

  • White rhinos are two-horned with the front horn being quite bigger than the later one. The recorded length of the rhino horn was around 5 feet.
  • Female White Rhinos have longer and thinner horns than males.
  • Northern White Rhinos are larger and weigh more in comparison to Southern White rhinos.
  • Rhino calf feeds on their mother’s milk till they become 6 months old and stay with their mother for 2.5-3 years.
  • Northern White Rhino are very close to extinction as of now only 2 female northern white rhino are alive.

Interesting facts about Elephants

  • The herd of elephant can have 10-70 members. They can travel distance up to 10 km a day in search of food.
  • As elephant are quite large they need to eat daily and frequently; they spend most of their time traveling and grazing. They only sleep for 4 hours a day.
  • Rhinos and Elephants are poached extensively for their tusks and horns. Although, in past few years sudden decline in white rhino and elephant has been seen still the southern white rhino and elephant have considerable population.

Comparison Chart: Elephant vs Rhino

Comparison Heads African Elephant White Rhino
Kingdom Animalia Animalia
Phylum Chordata Chordata
Class Mammalia Mammalia
Order Proboscidea Perissodactyla
Family Elephantidae Rhinocerotidae
Genus Loxodonta Ceratotherium
Species L.Africana C.Simum
Body Length 16.4-24.6 feet 12.1-13.5 feet
Height More than 12 feet 10 feet
Weight 2000-3000 kg 1000-3600 kg
Running speed 40 km/h 50 km/h
Lifespan 60-70 years 40-50 years

Elephant vs Rhino Animal Face-Off

On a sunny day, a fight may happen between elephant and rhino if an elephant enters the territory of an aggressive rhino. The close confrontation between these two would be an interesting one. The mighty rhino will not be afraid of elephant’s big size and the elephant may try to romp over the rhino but the agility of the rhino will not let the elephant do so.

The elephant may do some harm to the rhino but if the rhino gets a chance to attack then it can stab the elephant with its long keratin made horn; the elephant would die on the spot. Rhinoceros is the winner of this animal duel; however, fighting a huge male African elephant would be challenging for the rhino.

Comparison Video: Elephant vs Rhino

FAQ’S: Frequently Asked Questions

  • Rhinos and Elephants: Friends or Foes?

    Foes, Elephants and Rhinos are mortal enemies since hundreds of years.

  • Elephant vs Rhino vs Hippo size ?

    Elephants are larger than rhino and hippos respectively

  • Can a Rhino kill an Elephant?

    Yes, Among all the large mammals Rhino stands the best chance at actually defeating an elephant