Rhinoceros Facts:

There are 5 remaining Rhino species in the world.

  • Black Rhinoceros (Diceros Bicornis)
  • White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium Simum)
  • Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros Unicornis)
  • Sumatran Rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus Sumatrensis)
  • Javan Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros Sondaicus)

(Rhino means “nose”, Ceros means “horn”, Unicornis is “one nose”.)

Native to Africa are the Black and White Rhinos. Native to Asia are the Indian Rhino (Greater One Horned Rhino), the Sumatran Rhino and the Javan Rhino. All Rhinos are herbivores and either grazers or browsers. Grazers eat mainly grasses and browsers eat mainly low bushes, acacia thorns and taller grasses.

Three of the Rhino species have two horns; the Indian and the Javan have one. Horns will grow back in ~ 3 years if cropped or knocked off. Males tend to have thicker horns and female horns are usually longer and thinner. Horns are comprised of thousands of compressed hair-like strands of keratin (same material as human fingernails). The area at the base of the horn just above the snout bone is called the quick and is sensitive much like quick of our own fingernails.

With their horns Rhinos can plow through thick brush creating paths for themselves and other animals to pass through. Their large dung piles provide for many other animals and add nutrients to the soils. With their horns and feet they dig large wallows muddying up to cool their skins, protect themselves from the harsh sun and keep ticks and other pests off their bodies. Their horns are also used for defense to protect themselves and their babies from predators such as the Hyena and Lions.

Rhinos have poor eyesight but a good sense of smell and hearing. The Rhinos closest living relative is the horse… thus they are very agile on their feet and can trot and run surprisingly fast. All Rhinos have three toes.

The usual interval between calving is 3-4 years. Females reach sexual maturity in ~ 4-7 years, males 10-12. Baby birth weight is from 60-100 lbs. The calf becomes independent of the mother at 2.5–3 years.

Females in any species are highly vulnerable during pregnancy and while rearing or protecting her calf. Females move slower and are always seeking environments that will help protect her calf. Calves are at a high risk because they will most often stay with the mother even after she has been killed and will attack the poachers or predators trying to defend its dead mum.

As with Elephants, one or two calves (either the live calf or one in the embryo) are impacted by the poaching of each female. Thus, the poaching statistic numbers are likely to be 50-100% higher than those ever listed.

Poachers have become brutal now often killing the babies for their little stub of a horn. At present rates of poaching Rhinos may become extinct in the wild by 2022. With each Rhino or Elephant killed or taken from its environment a whole generation of adults is being lost and the genetic pool decreases dramatically.

China and Vietnam are the countries driving the illegal trade of Rhino horn.

The White Rhino is the largest of the 5 species. Weight is 4-6,000 pounds, 5-6’ tall, run at speeds of 28 mph, lifespan up to 50 years. Are more social than the Black Rhino. Gestation period is 16 months. Characteristic: wide-square lip, hump on front shoulders, and carry their head close to the ground…hence a grazer eating lower grasses. Population estimate is 14,500.

The Black Rhino is the most aggressive of the Rhino species. Weight 2-3,000 pounds, is 4.5-5.5 ‘ tall, lifespan 30-40 years, not as social as White Rhino. Gestation period is 16 months. Characteristic: pointed/hooked upper prehensile lip has a shorter head that is held higher to feed on bushes. They are easily agitated and prone to attack. Population estimate is 3,610.

The Indian Rhino is native to Nepal and Assam. Weight 4-6,000 pounds, is 5.5-6.5’ tall, lifespan is 40-50 years, are solitary. Gestation period is 16 months. Characteristic: only one horn, skin with large folds over its body. Population 2,600

The Javan Rhino lives in dense tropical forests. Is the rarest of the Rhino species with a population of only 50. Have only one horn. It is much like the Indian Rhinoceros but on a smaller scale.

The Sumatran Rhino lives in dense tropical forests. Is the most endangered of the Rhino species because its population declined more than 50% in the last 15 years. Their population is now only 250. It is the smallest of the 5 Rhino species and very hairy. Weight 1,300-2,000 pounds, is 3-5’ tall, lifespan 30-45 years, gestation 16 months. Characteristic: Only Asian Rhino with two horns, tufted ears and hairy reddish brown skin.