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Rhinoceros: Facts and Types

Suvamita Ghosh
There are different species of rhinoceros found in Africa and Asia. The horn is the most special feature of their body. This article provides some interesting facts.
The rhinoceros or rhino is one of the most sought-after animals in zoos all over the world. It attracts thousands of visitors yearly, receiving the greatest attention from children who are awed by its size and unique horn. Its most impressive and distinct feature is the horn that sits atop its nose.
It gets its name from its horn; its name originates from the word rhino, which is Greek for 'nose', and ceros, which means 'horns'. In the wild, it is mostly found in Africa and Southeast Asia. 

Interesting Facts about Different Rhinoceros Species

There are different species of rhinos, each having specific characteristics. They are white rhino, black rhino, greater one-horned rhino, Sumatran rhino, and Javan rhino. 
The greater one-horned rhino has a single horn and is found in northern India and southern Nepal. The Sumatran rhino has two horns, and is also called 'hairy rhino'.

African Rhinoceros

Black rhinos and white rhinos are the two species under this category. The black rhino is more belligerent than the white. Given below are some facts about these two species.

Black Rhino

The Diceros bicornis species is named 'black' and has distinguishable features from the white rhino. It has a narrow and prehensile lip form that helps it feed on shrubs and leaves.
It is mostly seen in dry, arid areas with lots of trees, where it can also hide. It is further sub-grouped into South-central, South-western, East African, and West African. The weight of the males and females ranges from 800 to 1,350 kg, and height ranges from 4.5-5.5 ft.
It does not have a very strong eyesight, but does possess good olfactory perception and sense of hearing. It has two horns, with the outer one being larger and measuring 50 cm.

White Rhinoceros

The Ceratotherium simum species is found in the woodland habitats of Africa, such as Kenya, Congo, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. It is brownish-gray in color. Its name 'white' comes as a misinterpretation of weit, an Afrikaans word meaning 'wide'.
The lip form of the animal helps it in grazing effectively. It is further sub-categorized into Southern and Northern White rhino, of which the latter is an endangered sub-species. It is heavily-built, with weight ranging from 1,800-2,700 kg. Its height ranges from 5-6 ft.
It has two horns, with the outer horn measuring over 89 cm on an average, larger than the inner one. The offspring are protected by the mothers up to three years.

Indian Rhinoceros

Also known as the greater one-horned rhino, the Rhinoceros unicornis species is now mostly found in Assam, India. Its numbers have dwindled greatly. Males are between 12-13 ft in height whereas females are between 10-11 ft.
Its weight is in the range of 1500-2700 kg. The lip is semi-prehensile and the hide color is grayish-brown. This species is a grazer and feeds mostly on grass. However, it may also feed on shrubs, fruits, leaves, branches, and aquatic plants. The mother can rear her calf for up to four years. This species is said to reproduce every 36 to 50 months.
It has only one horn that is entirely made up of keratin. It can range in height from 25 to 60 cm. This is a generally solitary animal.

Javan Rhinoceros

The Rhinoceros sondaicus species is found in the rainforests of Southeast Asia, mostly in Indonesia and Vietnam. It was first found in the Java Islands of Indonesia, and hence the name.
It is also known by the name lesser one-horned rhinoceros. It is dusky gray in color and has loose folds on its skin. It feeds on leaves, fruits, and shoots of the trees. An average adult can weigh around 900-2,300 kg. Its height is between 5-5.5 ft.
It has a single horn which measures 25 cm, and is made up of keratin fibers. It is calm by nature and prefers staying isolated. There are, altogether, sixty species in South-east Asia.

Sumatran Rhinoceros

The Dicerorhinus sumatrensis species is native to Indonesia and is now one of the most critically-endangered species of all. It was once found in the forests of India, Bhutan, Malaysia, China, Thailand, Laos, Bangladesh, and Myanmar. However, it is now extinct in most of these regions.
Its height ranges from 3-5 ft. and its weight is between 500-1000 kg. Its diet consists of saplings, fruits, leaves, twigs, and roots. It derives its salt requirement from sources such as hot springs or seepages of salty water. It has two horns, with the larger one measuring up to 25 cm.
This species is also known as the hairy rhino because it has brownish-reddish hair covering its body. This is a solitary animal except for mating and rearing the young ones. This is the smallest and hairiest of all the species.

Some Other Facts

The white rhino is wrongly called 'white', as its color is actually gray.
Rhino horn is made from a protein called keratin.
The horn is hugely sought-after, as it is used in traditional Chinese medicines.
The mother rhino gives birth only once in three years. The calf suckles from its mother for at least one year.
This animal has a unique thick layer of skin, which has a thickness of 1.5-5 cm and is made up of layers of collagen.
The average life span of a rhino is thirty-five to forty years.
An adult does not usually fall prey to other animals. Crocodiles are the most common predators of young calves.
Human beings are, by far, the greatest predators of wild rhinos. Continued poaching habits have endangered quite a few of their species.
Kaziranga National Park, a sanctuary in India, hosts about two-thirds of the world's greater one-horned rhinos.
Being solitary and protective by nature, these animals use their horns to defend their territories. It is believed that their horns can cure food poisoning. This is a very unique and beautiful animal that is on the verge of disappearing from the face of the earth. There are many efforts going on to protect it. It must be saved from extinction.