Rhino scientifically called as rhinocerotides (rhinocerotidae) es a mammal large native to Africa and Asia. It is believed to be the second largest land mammal in the world, after the African elephant.

Species

There are five different species of rhinoceros around the world. Three of them are currently in critical danger of extinction.

The five species are the rinoceronte Blanco (ravelobensis) is the largest species and the black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis), both native to Africa. They differ only in size, since in appearance they are very similar.

Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis), the rinoceronte de Sumatra (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) and Javan rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus) They are native species of Asia and are much smaller in size than their African relatives.

Black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis)
Black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis)

Features

The rhinoceros weighs about 1,5 tons on average and its skin is quite thick at about 1,5 cm. The Indian rhinoceros and the Javan rhinoceros have a single horn located in the center of their head. The African and Sumatran rhinoceros have a much smaller second horn located in front of the larger one.

Longevity varies between species, for example the Sumatran rhino can live up to 32 years and the white and sign rhino lives up to 60 years. This is possible because it lacks predators, with the exception of poachers.

The horn is highly prized as it is created from keratin, a type of protein found in most animals (including humans) that makes up hair or nails.

Compared to its large size, the brain is quite small (400 - 600 g). Some senses are very good, like your hearing and smell. However, his eyesight is very poor.

Behavior

The rhinoceros is solitary and is only grouped under certain factors such as the union of a mother and her calf or the temporary union of adults during the breeding season. However, there are always exceptions. The white rhinoceros pairs when immature, and can sometimes form generous groups, becoming the most social species. Females also tend to run, even with immature individuals. Groups of up to seven members have been seen.

Being territorial animals, they always move through the same areas that they would see in size according to the species and gender. The territory of the female white and Indian rhinoceros is established in zones of 9 - 15 km and of the female black rhinoceros between 3 - 90 km. The territory is marked by the use of feces and urine, and scattered with kicks. If the territory is next to another, they tend to urinate more than normal to clarify their limits. The females are not governed by these rules and their territories overlap each other as they do not have a hint of territoriality. Female white rhinoceros rub their noses to establish friendly contact, however female rhinoceros do respond aggressively to the proximity of other females.

The males face any other male that invades their territory. They tend to respond abruptly with lunges when someone is disturbing them, although most of the time they are designed to scare the intruder and not harm him. In the confrontations the horns are pressed together and they push against each other. The confrontation of another form would cause severe damages to be very heavy. At the end of the conflict, the winning male sprays sprayed urine while the loser withdraws, stops spreading his urine and feces, and accepts the conditions as subordinate.

Group of rhinos feeding.
Group of rhinos feeding.

Habitat

The rhinoceros inhabits thick forests and savannas where there are large amounts of food to feed on and excellent protection to hide.

Distribution

The rhinoceros is distributed in two continents: Africa and Asia.

Food

The rhino is a herbivorous animal it needs a large amount of food to stay alive due to its large volume. Colon can ferment and digest any type of vegetable, so they can tolerate high-fiber foods in their diet. Although they are available, they prefer to eat soft vegetables that are richer in nutrients.

Each species has evolved to consume a certain type of vegetable. The black rhino can break the branches of woody plants thanks to its upper lip. However, the white rhino has an elongated skull and wide lips that it uses to feed on short, soft grasses.

The Indian rhino also has a prehensile lip that it uses to feed on tall grasses and small bushes. The Javanese and Sumatran rhinoceros cut down small trees to consume the leaves and shoots.

All species, with the exception of the white rhinoceros, incorporate fruits into their diet.

Predators

The rhinoceros lacks natural predators. Despite their noble appearance, they are actually quite aggressive and can be seen charging fiercely against predators. But young specimens can be the victim of big cats, crocodiles, African wild dogs and hyenas.

Rhinos are hunted by poachers when they lower their guard, as they often visit wells daily.

Reproduction

The reproduction cycle of rhinos varies by species. The white and Indian rhinoceros begin their sexual stage at five years of age, and give birth to their first calves between the ages of six and eight. Female black rhinoceros are more fertile because they are smaller and have their first offspring a year earlier.

The male can begin to reproduce between seven and eight years of age, but usually does not do so until ten years. The testicles are not next to the scrotum and the penis when it is retracted points backwards.

Generally, all species have a single offspring per birth, although there is the possibility of gestation of two offspring due to the presence of a pair of mammae, located on the hind legs. The interval between births is twenty-two months, although the usual cycle is between two and four years.

The young are small and weigh about 65 kg as soon as they are born. In the case of the black rhino, they only weigh 40 kg. After three days, they are able to keep up with their mother.

Young can be born in any season, but in African rhinos, births are more common at the end of the rainy season and in the middle of the dry season.

State of conservation

The IUCN Red List classifies the black, Javan and Sumatran rhinoceros as critically endangered species.

The main critically endangered problem of the species lies with poachers. In 2009, hunting increased worldwide, while efforts to conserve rhinos were ineffective. In Zimbabwe only 3% of hunters are successfully countered, however, in Nepal the number of hunters has been reduced.

Numerous officials have called for urgent measures to be taken to stop the hunters, since a group of them killed the last female in the Krugersdorp Game Reserve, near Johannesburg.

Statistics from the South African national park show that 333 rhinos died in South Africa in 2010, increasing to 668 in 2012 and more than 1.004 in 2013, reaching more than 1.338 dead in 2015.

Most of the time, to remove the horns, they are drugged or killed. If only the horns are removed, the animal will end up losing its life to not being able to defend itself from predators adequately.

The Namibian government has supported hunting with the use of trophies as a way to raise funds for the conservation of the species. Each year, five licenses to kill five black rhinos are auctioned and the money goes to the government's Gaming Products Trust Fund. Numerous conservation groups have complained about this practice.

Relationship with humans

Rhinos are hunted by some humans just for their horns. The purpose is to sell their horns (by weight) on the black market, which cost more than gold.

In East Asia, specifically in Vietnam, the largest black market for horns is concentrated.

Popular culture

Horns are used by some cultures as ornaments or traditional medicine. To consume them, they are ground and consumed believing that they have therapeutic properties.

Throughout history the rhinoceros has been represented in various artistic ways. For example, Albrecht Dürer made a woodcut in 1515. In France images were depicted in caves between 10.000 - 30.000 years ago. The Greek historian and geographer named Agatharchides (XNUMXnd century BC) names the rhino in his book: On the Erythraean Sea.

There are also legends in India and Malaysia, about a rhinoceros that is capable of putting out the fire of the forests known as "Badak api" in Malay. Badak comes to mean "rhinoceros" and api "fire." This legend was represented in the movie: The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980), where a rhinoceros is seen putting out two bonfires.

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