The rhino is the third largest living land animal, after the elephant and the hippopotamus. Its sense of sight is extremely poor. It will not be able to see a motionless person standing further than 30 meters away. However, poor eyesight is offset by its phenomenal sense of hearing and smell. The rhino is very endangered because its horn is in high demand in the illegal market. If you would like to meet the fanscining animal, then you may have lucked out on the “The Big Five” safari in Africa.
Facts about the rhino
|Location:||Africa, on the savannah of South Asia, in Indonesia|
|Life expectancy:||35-45 years|
|Weight:||1,500 to 3,500 kilos|
|Size:||3.5-4 meters long and 1.5-2 meters high|
|Food:||Grass, leaves and herbs|
|Quantity:||28,900 (endangered species)|
|Fun fact:||The horn of a rhinoceros is made of the substance “Keratin”. It is the same thing that forms human hair and nails.|
There are five different species of rhinos. The African rhinos are the most common. Here live the black and white rhinoceros, while in Asia live the Indian rhinoceros, sumatran rhinoceros and Javanese rhinoceros. The population of Sumatra and Java is less than 100 on each island, while there are approx. 5,000 Indian rhinos. There is a big difference between the Asian and African rhinos. The African rhinos together with the Sumatran rhino have 2 horns.
The Indian Rhino and the Javanese Horn that you may encounter on a Sri Lanka trip have only one. The horn can be almost 150 cm (front) long, while the back ‘only’ becomes 50 cm. Males are generally larger than females. The male often weighs more than 2 tons, while the female rarely weighs more than 1.5 tons. However, the black rhino is smaller than the white. The black weighs an average of 1.5 tons. The rhino has a large powerful head, placed on a powerful body with short legs. The black rhino is generally slimmer but longer than the white, and the same goes for the Asian rhinos.
The rhino is a vegetarian. It feeds on green grass, leaves, twigs and fruits. The white rhino is particularly fond of grazing, while the black feeds on leaves and twigs. There is therefore no tumult between the two species when it comes to having to find food. The white rhino is adapted to a life as a grasshopper. With its wide mouth, it works just as well as a lawn mower, eating freshly sprouted grass. The black is more pointed-nosed, and can thus use its mouth to catch leaves, as if it were a finger. The Asian rhinos also feed on fruit and leaves. A rhino can go up to 5 days without getting water, which is why it has a good chance of surviving a drought period. In general, the rhinoceros resides on grasslands, where they are relatively close to a stream. A rhino eats approx. 20 kg of food daily.
The rhino is pregnant for a long time, and gives birth to its calf after approx. 15 months. It gives birth to only one young at a time. The calf weighs about 25-40 kg. depending on what type of rhino it is. The baby is born without horns. It only starts to grow out when the kid is 1 year old. The mother hides the baby for the first few days, and after just a few weeks, the calf is able to follow the mother. The baby dies in approx. 2 years, but also learns to graze or eat leaves in the meantime. A rhino gives birth every 3 years and can get pregnant all year round. A mating session can take up to an hour. The male can easily have several females, it mates with. .
The rhino is generally a very antisocial animal. Only related females and their young live together grouped in certain periods. The males leave the group and trudge around alone from the time they are sexually mature. It will be when it is approx. Ten years. The male can be very dominant, marking his territory with urine, feces and by scratching trees with the horn. If the males come up to fight, the male marks his victory by urinating on the spot.
The rhino has no close relative, other than the five species of rhinos that exist today. However, it is estimated that for 20 mill. years ago there were more than 30 different species of rhinos. The prehistoric rhinos are thought to have been much larger, some of which had longer necks and legs. There were also species that lived completely without horns. A rhinoceros species that is thought to have become extinct during the last ice age is the woolly rhinoceros. The Sumatran and Javan rhinos are today endangered breeds. There are less than 100 of each species, and they are already extinct from countries such as Vietnam.
Travelers’ questions about the rhino
Why is it white rhinoceros, black?
Both the black and the white rhinoceros got their names by a sheer translation error.
Thus, there is no difference in the colors of the two species of rhinos. Both are gray, and it is therefore not possible to assess the species on the basis of its color. In South Africa, the white rhino is called “wijde”, which the English mistakenly translated “white” in their time. Instead, the word means “wide” and implies that the white rhino has a very wide mouth that it uses to eat grass with. The black rhino has a more pointed mouth that it can use to catch leaves. Because widow was believed to mean white, the English chose to christen the second African rhino with a white counterpart, namely black.
How fast does a rhino run?
At first glance, rhinos are not an animal you want to associate with speed. Its massive barrel-shaped body and half-short legs do not exactly radiate speed. However, one should not be underestimated by the mighty strength of the rhino. The rhino has many muscles and can therefore also run extremely fast. They can reach a top speed of 50 km per hour. The Javan rhino is the fastest. Due to its smaller size (approx. 1 ton), it can reach over 50 km per hour. However, the African rhinos are still in the race to be fast. Their average speed is between 40-50 km per hour.
Does the rhino have enemies?
The rhino only has man as a natural enemy.
Man, on the other hand, also poses a huge threat to the rhino. The horn is the curse of the rhino. The horn has a huge value in the illegal market. In many places, a horn is worth at least as much as gold and other metals. There have been cases where people have stolen horns from stuffed rhinos just to resell it. A situation that is even worse is that in both Africa and Asia there are many cases where people with chainsaws release the rhino from its horn. They then leave the rhinoceros alive with open wounds where the horn once sat. It is unknown if the horn grows out again, and it leaves the rhino in an extremely dangerous situation.
In Vietnam, there is a superstition that powdered rhinos can have a healing effect. The horn is therefore used as an ingredient in several traditional Asian types of medicine. Especially in Vietnam, there is a widespread belief that rhinoceros horns can help cure life-threatening diseases such as cancer and other incurable diseases. There is even a belief that rhino powder can cure hangovers. This view has made the rhino completely extinct in Vietnam today. It also makes the rhinos of Sumatra and Java endangered species.