Rhinoceros (Family: Rhinocerotidae)
Rhinos are one of the most recognized mammals on the planet, but there is a lot about this animal that many may not know. Some species are critically endangered due to human activity. Let's reveal more about this giant horned herbivore.
Physical Description and Behavior
Rhinos are massive, have one to two horns on their snout, and thick stumpy legs. They can be 7 feet tall, and about 13 feet long, and weighing up to 5 tons. Their skin is extremely thick as well, providing them with a lot of protection from predators. In fact, adult rhinos have no natural predators in the wild. Baby rhinos however have fallen prey to lions in Africa and tigers in Asia.
Fun Fact: Rhinos also have poor eyesight, but they make up for it with a keen sense of hearing and smell. While they may not sound like they make noise, they actually communicate with each other using a low frequency that is not detected by human ears.
Their large size and muscular figure are fascinating to consider, given how they eat a plant-based diet. They mostly graze on leaves and grass but are also known for eating shoots and fruit when given the opportunity.
Poaching and Medicine
Though rhinos have no natural predators, humans are a danger to all rhinos due to poaching. This is because their horns are seen as extremely profitable, some claiming that it even costs more than gold per pound. Sadly, this is because of folk medicine. The horn is ground up and made into a paste or drink. Rhino horn is believed to be able to purify water and even detect and cleanse poisons. There is no scientific evidence of this.
Rhino horns are made of keratin, the same material we have in our hair and fingernails. When baby rhinos are born, they only have a small bump on their nose. This slowly grows into a horn as they age, the same way our hair and fingernails grow.
While it is possible to trim the horns down, many poachers dig in as deep as they can to get as much rhino horn as possible. This cuts into the sinus cavity, often killing the animal over time in the process.
As a result of this massive poaching, the black, Javan, and Sumatran rhinoceros is listed as critically endangered on the IUCN RedList.
Many organizations are working to prevent poaching, and one of the ways that they do that is by clipping the horn down. Often done with a chainsaw, it is hard to watch, but ultimately protects the rhino. This cuts the amount of rhino horn that poachers can get by less than half. Due to this and other methods, the White Rhino went from less than 100 individuals to over 20,000, making it a conservation success story. In comparison, there were thought to be 500,000 members less than a century ago.
Habitat and Location
Rhinoceroses are comprised of many species, all of which can be found in southern Africa, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Bangladesh, and more. They live primarily in hot grassy areas.
Find out more about this amazing animal by watching the video below: