Rhinoceros is a Greek word. ‘Rhino’ means ‘nose’ and ‘ceros’ means ‘horn’. They are the second largest mammal on the Earth after Elephants. These creatures are strong, well capable to charge and do rampage. These bullet proof giants are not gentle, yet very aggressive and stand as an icon in the jungle. They don’t have any formidable predator but, due to human activities these species is listed endangered. Here are some facts and current status of black rhinos.
1. Rhinos are of 5 types (Starting from the largest)
- Indian greater one horn rhinos.
- White rhinos.
- Black rhinos.
- Javan rhinos.
- Sumatra rhinos.
These black ones are the third largest and can be found in Southern and Eastern Africa, including Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Black and white both rhinos are grey in color. In fact, it is not white but, ‘wide’. Due to the wide square lips, the species called wide rhinos by Africans, but pronounced as white. Whereas, the black ones are not black, they are also distinguishable by their pointy upper lips ideal for grazing vegetation in their habitat.
3. Adults can grow up-to 10-13 feet in length and weigh as much as 800-1400kgs.
These species have 2 horns on their head made out of keratin, the same material our nails and hairs are made of. Their horns can grow 50-60 centimeters but, some have been spotted with 140-150 centimeters long horns.
5. Don’t make mistake judging their speed by their bulky body. These animals can run 50-55kms per hour and very agile to change direction.
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6. Rhinos are strictly herbivores. They graze and feed on leaves and grasses. Although, they are selective eaters and seen to feed on 220 species of plants. They stay close to water sources but, can survive several days without water.
Males are known as bulls and females are cows, whereas the babies are called calves. Females are social but, the males are solitary and very territorial. A group of rhinos is known as ‘crash‘.
8. Rhinos don’t have good eyesight. In fact, they are unable to see a motionless person at a distance of 30 meters. But, they have excellent sense of hearing and smell.
Their skin may be bullet proof but, couldn’t give protection against sun burn. They can often be seen rolling around in mud, giving themselves a protective ‘mud coat’. It keep them cool, stop insects biting and get rid of any parasites.
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10. Females gain sexual maturity at 4-5 years of age, whereas males gain at 6-7 years. Males do mature late to gain size and compete with others.
Their clash can result death, as these animals have the highest known combat death rate for any mammal. Some 50% of males meet their end fighting.
Between 1960 to 1995 black rhino population dropped 98% due to European hunters. In past 10 years, over 7000 rhinos had been killed by poachers for horns. Used in traditional Asian medicine to ‘cure’ a range of ailments like cancer to hangovers. Also the horn is seen as a status symbol, particularly in Vietnam.
13. Habitat loss and fragmentation are also increasing threats to rhinos, as human populations and infrastructure grows, encroaching on rhino habitat.
14. Present Rhino population in wild (estimated)
- Javan rhino 74
- Sumatran rhino less than 80.
- Black rhino between 5,366 and 5,627.
- Greater one-horned rhino 3,588.
- White rhino between 17,212 and 18,915.