Rhinoceros (Rhinocerotidae) is a large and bulky ungulate with one or sometimes two horns on the snout, possessing three toes on each limb. They have a hairless body. Rhino’s horns often remind us of the typical horns of antelopes, cattle, or even a goat. They have a thick skin that varies between 0.5 and 1.8 in (13–45 mm) but the thickness does not remain the same over the entire body. Rhinos have a short neck and short tail.
- Alongside elephants and hippos, rhinos are one of the heaviest ungulates with the weight up to 2,200 lb (1,000 kg) in adults. All these are ‘megaherbivores’.
- The head-and-body length measures up to 100–150 in (250–380 cm); and the shoulder height is 54–73 in (135–185 cm).
- They have short legs and short limbs. The eyes are perched nicely on the side of the head.
- Rhinos do not have canines or incisor except the Javan and Indian rhinos—both these species have tusk-like incisors in the lower jaw while the Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) has got lower canines as well as upper incisors.
- Rhinos are recognized by their front horns on the snout but unlike cattle or other ungulates, these horns lack the bony core. They do not seem to form the part of the skull. If by accident horns are knocked off, they re-grow and it continues to growth all throughout the life.
- Rhino’s skeleton is strong enough to support heavy body weight.
Africa hosts two rhino species while three species are found in Southeast Asia. Almost all these species are limited to their range. Humans are mainly responsible.
Modern rhinos are known to make homes in many habitats such as swamplands and meadows for the Indian rhinos, dense rainforests for the Javan and Sumatran rhinos. White rhinos fancy living in the grassy savannas while semi-desert or dry bushland for the black rhino (Diceros bicornis).
- Rhinos are typically solitary animals except when mother is with her cubs. White rhinos are likely to form small groups as they are bit social.
- Rhinos have a poor vision and they are unable to observe a human standing at a distance of 100 ft (30 m).
- They have an acute hearing sense as both ears move independently to observe the surroundings.
- Rhinos have very sharp sense of smell and they are able to detect human scent even after several hours. Besides they can also follow the footprints of other rhinos.
- Rhinos are highly aggressive and they often charge human intruders but generally they are passive and can adjust themselves in captivity.
Feeding Diet and Ecology
Rhinos have got efficient digestion process precisely due to the large body size. They are regular browsers as they readily feed on grass, leaves, and stems of woody plants.
- The gestation period lasts 15 – 16 months.
- The mother will nurse her child for well over a year
- IUCN Red list has listed two species Javan and Sumatran rhinos as Critically Endangered with only a few numbers are left in certain sanctuaries in Southeast Asia.
- The black rhinos are also considered to be Critically Endangered since no major habitat offers a large population of black rhinos. Black rhino’s population is threatened due to poaching.
- The Indian rhinos are relatively greater in number and thus they are merely listed as endangered.
- White rhinos are the only species that are no longer listed as endangered species. It had had less population at the beginning of the twentieth century in southern Africa but now recovered.
- All these species have long been hunted illegally and driven by the high market value.
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