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Indian Rhino

Physical Appearance : Indian Rhinos are brownish-gray in color and are hairless. They have knobby skin that appears to be armor-plated. A single horn sits on top of their snout, and their upper lip is semi-prehensile.

The largest of the Asian rhinos, male Indian rhinos weigh approximately 2,200 kg (nearly 1,000 pounds) and range in height from 170 to 186 cm (67 to 73 inches) and are 368 to 380 cm (145 to 150 inches) long. Their horn can grow to 45 cm (18 inches)! Females* are smaller, weighing only 1,600 kg (726 pounds) and standing 148 to 173 cm (58 to 68 inches) tall. Female Indian rhinos are 310 to 340 cm (122 to 134 inches) long. A female is pregnant for 16 before giving birth. *Note: black, Sumatran, and Javan rhino females are similar in size to the male of the species.

Geographic Range: There are approximately 2,400 Indian rhinos, living in Northern India and southern Nepal.

Status: According to the International Rhino Foundation, the Indian rhino is a success story in conservation. The population had dwindled to fewer than 200 individuals back in the early 1900s. Since that time, the Indian and Nepalese governments have established and enforeced strict protection of this species. Although the population has grown to 2,400 individuals, protection against poaching and other conservation efforts must remain in place.

General Information:

Related to tapirs, horses, and zebras, rhinocersoses are "odd-toed ungulates" (Order: Perissodactyla), rhinos are large herbivores that occur in Africa and tropical Asia. Read the table below for a summary of the major characteristics of the 5 rhinoceros species.

Rhino senses: If you were swimming in the middle of an Olympic-sized swimming pool, and a rhino was at the other end (25 meters or 82 ft.) away , the rhino probably wouldnÕt be able to see you! Rhinos have very small eyes, positioned on either side of their head, and they have very poor eyesight. The rhino would probably hear you. They do have a good sense of hearing, and they can swivel their ears to focus on a sound. And unless the wind was blowing away from the rhino, the rhino would certainly be able to smell you! Their best sense is their sense of smell.

Rhino diet: All rhinos are herbivores. Some eat grass; others eat buds, leaves, and fruit. They all eat a lot! The black rhino and the Indian rhino both have prehensile lip. They can use their lip as a finger to help them pluck or gather food.

Water is an important resource for rhinos. Not only do they need to drink water, they also swim in water and wallow in mud. When they wallow, they get covered with mud. This mud protects their skin from biting insects. Tickbirds and egrets will perch on rhinos and eat skin parasites they find there.

Rhino social life: Rhinos are not very social, usually living alone or in small groups of mother and offspring. Rhinos can sprint at speeds of 45 kilometers per hour (28 mph). Males will fight each other, often using their horn to cause real damage, to protect their territory and to mate with females. Rhinos mark their territories with urine and dung piles that can be three feet high!

Conservation status: Rhinos are endangered, mainly from hunting. Big game hunters have shot them for trophies. But the main reason these huge animals are hunted is for their horn. Some people believe that rhino horn has special medicinal powers. But rhino horn is simply keratin: it is made of the same protein that your fingernails are made of! Rhinos are protected, but poaching still continues.

Rhino horn: The horn on a rhinoceros is very different from that of a sheep or antelope. The horn is not attached to the skull. Rhino horn is made of compressed keratin fibers, the same material that is found in fingernails and hair! Some people believed that rhino horn had powerful medicinal uses, ranging in use from from stopping nosebleeds and headaches to curing diphteria and food poinsoning.

The use of rhino horn for medical purposes has been illegal since 1993. Trade continues, however. Rhino horn sells for from $ 21,000 to $ 54,000 per kilogram (2 pounds).

As you can see in these photos of Sumatran (left) and white (right) rhino skulls, there is no bone for the horn, and the horns are not attached to the skull.

Rhinos of the World

Common name Black Rhino White Rhino Indian Rhino Javan Rhino Sumatran Rhino
Scientific name Diceros bicornis Ceratotherium simum Rhinoceros unicornis Rhinoceros sondaicus Dicerorhinus sumatrensis
Number surviving 2,700 10,400 2,400 60 300
Distribution Southern and central Africa Southern and central Africa Northern India, southern Nepal Ujung Kulon National Park on the island of Java in Indonesia Southeast Asia (primarily Indonesia and Malaysia)
Habitat Tropical bushlands, grassland, and savannahs in Africa. Long- and short-grass savannahs Floodplains, riverine grasslands Lowland tropical rainforest Tropical rainforest and mountain moss forest
Weight 1,750 - 3,000 lbs (800 - 1,350 kg) 4,000-6,000 lb (1,800 - 2,700 kg) 4,000-6,000 lb (1,800 - 2,700 kg) 2,000 - 3,000 lbs (900 - 1,400 kg) 1,300 - 1,700 lbs (600 - 800 kg)
Diet A browser that uses its prehensile upper lip to grasp stems, branches, twigs and leaves. Grazer Feeds on grasses, fruit, leaves, tree and shrub branches, cultivated crops Mostly a browser, but will graze Feeds on fruit, leaves, twigs and bark
Physical Description Two horns; Not black at all, the black rhino probably derives its name from the dark-colored local soil covering its skin from wallowing; prehensile-lip Two horns; Neutral gray, almost hairless; Square-lipped; One horn; Brown-gray, hairless, with rivet-plated (armor-plated), knobby skin; Upper lip semi-prehensile One horn; Gray, hairless; lesser, but still apparent, armor plating Two horn; Red-brown coat, sparsely covered with long hair
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