Rhinoceroses or Rhinos are the largest land mammals after the elephant. These magnificent animals roamed many places throughout Eurasia and Africa. At the turn of the 20th century, there were half a million rhinos roaming the area, but these numbers have significantly decreased. One of the most sacred animals of folk medicine, the rhinoceros gets its name from the Greek word “rhino” (nose) and “ceros” (horn). One of the oldest and biggest of living mammals, rhinos are truly rare and beautiful creatures.
Rhino’s Habitat & Species
As stated above Rhinos use to be found across half the planet, sadly today their population and their range has significantly decreased. The rhinos prefer tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannahs, shrublands, tropical moist forests, deserts and xeric shrublands.
The type of environment the rhino come from its specific specie and subspecies. There were 11 total species of rhinos, but today only 5 species remain. Here is a breakdown of each specie and subspecies of rhinos with their current population count.
- Javan Rhino (Rhinoceros Sondaicus) 58-68: this rhino calls Java, Indonesia, and Vietnam its home range. And prefers tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests.
- Sumatran Rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) 80: this species of rhinos is found in Sumatra, Indonesia and Sabah, Malaysia. They are found in dense highland and lowland tropical and sub-tropical forests.
- Indian Rhinoceros or Greater One-Horned Rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis) 3,550: Natives of India and Nepal, these rhinos live in tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands.
- Black Rhino (Diceros bicornis) Around 5,000: Black rhinos are found across Africa in Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Swaziland, Tanzania, and Botswana. They are found in tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, deserts and xeric shrublands.
- The Western Rhino: Declared extinct in 2011.
- The Eastern Rhino: Found in Tanzania
- South-Western Rhino: Range consists of Namibia, Angola, Botswana, and South Africa.
- South-Central Rhino: Zambia, Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.
- White Rhino (Ceratotherium simum) > 20,000: Another rhino species based in Africa, the White rhino is found in South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Swaziland. They live mostly in tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands.
- Northern White Rhino: All males are extinct. 2 remaining females in the wild.
- Southern White Rhino: over 20,000 living members in Southern Africa.
>Rhinos while may look dangerous are herbivores, so they only consume plants. The makeup of the species determines what the rhinos use for food. The White rhino with its square-shape lips grazes on grass, while other rhinos prefer feasting on the foliage of trees and bushes. The Black rhino’s long lips allow it to pick leaves and fruits from up high, making it easier for them to reach and eat from trees.
The most recognizable feature of the rhino is its horns. These horns are made of keratin, the same material human hair and fingernails are made of. There are single-horned rhinos (Javan rhinos) and double-horned rhinos (Black, White, and Sumatran rhinos). The horns are usually curved inwards towards the head.
The body shape and weight of the rhinos also vary by species, for example the smallest rhino species, the Sumatran rhino weighs around (800 kilograms) or 1,765 pounds and grows to 2.5 to 3 meters or (8 to 10 feet) long and up to 1.5 meters (4.8 feet) from hoof to shoulders. The largest of the rhinos, the white rhino is significantly bigger at 3.7 to 4 meters (12 to 13 feet) long and up to 1.8 meters (6 feet) tall from hoof to shoulders. These rhinos can weigh up to 2,300 kilograms (5,000 pounds).
Rhino’s Behavior & Life Cycle
Rhinos are not known for being too sociable, they usually avoid most animals including other rhinos, but they do have a connection with birds. Though often solitary, sometimes rhinos do form groups called crashes. Territorial animals, with one dominant male ruling over an area of land. These alpha males allow sub-dominate males to live on his territory.
Rhinos only sleep during the hottest part of the day and are partially nocturnal as they spend their nights and days grazing. When not sleeping or eating, they are seeing cooling off in a nice mud soak.
Every two and a half years to five years, a female rhino reproduces. The gestation period of a female rhino is 15 to 16 months long, and usually produce one baby at a time. The baby rhinos called calves are born at 40 to 65 kilograms. The full maturation happens at 3 years old and the average lifespan of the animal lasts up to 45 years.