The Indian Rhinoceros scientifically called ‘Rhinoceros unicornis’, also known as the Greater one horned rhinos can be found in Indian subcontinent. There are around 3700 Indian rhinos in the north east India and Terai grasslands of Nepal. About 85% global population of these rhinos are found in Assam, making them the state animal. These animals are the largest among all rhino species and live as an icon in the forests. But, unfortunately they are listed vulnerable as per IUCN list.
1. Physical strength :
Indian Rhinoceros are the second largest animal in Asia after the Asian Elephants. The average length of a male rhino is around 370-380 centimeters and a females grow in between 310-340 centimeters (from head to body). The shoulder height of males are 170-186 centimeters in average and females are as high as 148-173 centimeters.
Adult males weigh up-to 2500kgs, whereas female grows up-to 1600kgs. Except that they have poor eyesight but also have excellent hearing and smelling skills.
2. Special body parts and skin :
Indian Rhinos are famous for their single horn on their snout. Males and females both have the horn except the new born. It starts to develop from the age of six years, and grows up-to 25 centimeters. Theses horns are made out of keratin and curved backwards, swiftly narrows towards edge.
Theses rhinos have fat gray skin with Skin folds, the shoulders and upper legs are covered by mole like bumps. Commonly all males have skin folds on their neck and the blood vessels under the skin fold tissues makes it pinkish.
3. Speed :
India Rhinos are not great runners, but in spite of the bulk, they can charge with a speed up-to 50 to 60 Km per hour for short periods. They are one of the heaviest animal in the world but, enough agile to change directions with ease when needed. Need to mention they are great swimmers also.
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4. Lifespan :
Averagely Indian Rhinos live around 40 years but, in captivity they can live up-to 45 years.
5. Habitat :
These great Rhinos are found at sedimentary grasslands of Terai (Southern Nepal), Northern Uttar Pradesh, Northern Bihar, Northern West Bengal and The Brahmaputra valley of Assam. They love to live at tall grasslands and woodlands.
6. Behavior :
Indian Rhinos are primarily solitary in nature. Male rhinos mostly live alone except the mating time. Females lives in small herds including calves. They are mainly active in the early morning, late afternoons and late nights. They also spend a huge amount of time wallowing in mud and water to get rid off parasites, and the mud coat gives them protection from sunburn. Males occupy areas near around 2-8 square kilometers and usually fight for their preferable boundaries.
They communicate by snorting, honking, bleating, roaring, squeak panting, moo-grunting, shrieking, groaning, rumbling and humphing. The Pedal scent glands, helps them to mark their presence. Males usually follow female’s scent and walk towards them.
7. Diet :
They mainly feed on grass but, they also eat leaves, shrubs, small trees, fruits and aquatic plants.
8. Reproduction or Mating :
The Male Rhinos Start breeding after 9 years and females can breed from 5-6 years of age. Females whistles to inform males that they are ready to mate. Mothers give birth of a single calf in every 3 to 4 years, and their gestation period is near around 15-16 months. At birth the young can weigh 55-70kgs.
9. Threats :
In the 19th centuries Indian Rhinos hunt for sports. Secondly, Indian Rhinos live in the fertile lands which people also use for farming, so humans destroyed their habitats lot of times. Although, the main reason for decreasing population is Poaching. Rhinos were poached for their Horns, which are mainly used in traditional Chinese medicine illegally. Report says, between 1980-1993 near around 700 Rhinos were poached in India, from 2000-2006 more than 150 were poached in Assam, and recently between 2013-2018 more than 100 Rhino were poached.
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10. Conservation efforts :
1910 : Indian government restricted rhino hunting.
1957 : First conservation law published for secure their habitat.
Indian Rhinos need to move some safe places, so Indian government launched “Indian Rhino vision programme” for Rhinos to a safe but outlying places. The population is safely increasing in some protected conservation areas like Kaziranga, Pobitora, Orang national park, Manas national park, Laokhowa wildlife sanctuary, Burachapori wildlife sanctuary and Dibru Saikhowa wildlife sanctuary.
Indian and Nepal governments are also working together, in order to restore rhino habitat and protect the species. Governments are also Communicating with local people and tracking illegal wildlife trading with help of WWF. Worldwide 67 zoos were home to 182 Indian rhinos, where they can live and breed.
Some other Interesting facts :
1. Indian Rhinos can dive and eat underwater.
2. Their skin folds protects them like armor plates.
3. Indian Rhinoceros are the only single horned rhino species.