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Title : The Indian One - Horned Rhinoceros Previous topic PreviousNext Next topic

Weighing between 1,600 to 3,500 kg (3,500 to 7,700 lb), One - Horned Rhinoceros are the fourth largest land animal. The Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) is also called greater one-horned rhinoceros and Asian one-horned rhinoceros and belongs to the Rhinocerotidae family. Listed as a vulnerable species, the large mammal is primarily found in parts of north-eastern India, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan. It is confined to the tall grasslands and forests in the foothills of the Himalayas. The Indian Rhinoceros can run at speeds of up to 25 mph (40 km/h) for short periods of time and is also an excellent swimmer. It has excellent senses of hearing and smell, but relatively poor eyesight. Today, about 3,000 rhinos live in the wild, 2,000 of which are found in North Estern India's Assam alone.

Greater one-horned Asian rhinoceroses are the second largest of five rhino species. The largest is Africa's white rhino (Ceratotherium simum), which can weigh up to 8,000 pounds and stands about six inches taller. The name rhinoceros comes from the Greek words for "nose-horn" (rhino-ceros). Rhinoceroses are the only mammals with horns on their noses rather than on top of their heads. The rhino family's origins stretch back 60 million years-to five million years after the reign of the dinosaurs.

Two-thirds of the world's Indian rhinoceroses are now confined to the Kaziranga National Park situated in the Golaghat district of Assam, India.


Colour : Gray brown, pinkish at the skin folds

Physical Description : Very large, brownish gray, with plate-like pleats to their thick skin, greater one-horned Asian rhinoceroses are built somewhat like tanks with skinny, short legs. Their hearing and sense of smell are acute, but these animals have poor vision and cannot see a non-moving animal 100 feet away. Present in both males and females, but not newborn young, the distinctive horn is made of keratin--the same protein that forms fingernails and the covering of cow horns.

Size : Males are noticeably larger than females, standing five and a half to six feet tall, weighing up to 5,000 pounds, and reaching up to 12 feet long.

Geographic Distribution : Greater one-horned Asian rhinoceroses once ranged from Pakistan across northern India to Nepal, Bhutan, and the border with Myanmar (Burma), and perhaps ranged even further, into southern China. Today, they are confined to a few small, protected populations totaling about 2,000 animals. Most live in several parks in India and in Nepal's Royal Chitwan National Park.

Status : The greater one-horned Asian rhinoceros is listed as endangered on the World Conservation Union's (IUCN's) Red List of Threatened Animals.

Habitat: Greater one-horned Asian rhinoceroses inhabit floodplain grasslands and adjacent forests and swamps. Today, in their restricted range, these animals sometimes feed in cultivated fields and pastures.

Diet : Strict vegetarians, greater one-horned Asian rhinoceroses mainly eat grasses, but they also consume leaves, fruit, branches, and farm crops.

Reproduction : Females reach breeding age at five years and bear their first calves at between six and eight. Single calves are born at intervals of about three years. Males can breed at nine years old but due to competition from older males, many don't mate until they are about ten years old.

Life Span : In zoos, greater one-horned Asian rhinoceroses have lived up to 47 years; longevity in the wild is shorter.

Behavior : Greater one-horned Asian rhinoceroses generally travel alone, feeding under the dense cover of tall grass or trees, and spending hours wallowing in mud, an activity that keeps biting flies at bay. Females and their young travel together, and sometimes a few rhinoceroses will share the same feeding or wallowing areas. Males are territorial.


Hunting : Hunting was an important factor in the greater one-horned rhino's historical decline. During the last century, rhinos were hunted for sport by both Europeans and Asians. Rhinos were also killed as agricultural pests in tea plantations.

By the early 1900s, the population was so far reduced that rhino hunting was prohibited in Assam, Bengal and Myanmar.

Poaching : Poaching of greater one-horned rhinos for their horns remains a continuous threat.

Although there is no scientific proof of its medical value, the horn is used in traditional Asian medicines, primarily for the treatment of a variety of ailments ranging from epilepsy, fevers, and strokes. Asian rhino horn is believed to be more effective than African horn.

Despite protection – and although internatinal trade in rhino horn is banned –rhino horn is still traded extensively throughout Asia.

Greater one-horned Asian rhinoceroses have drastically declined since the early part of the 20th century, as their riparian (river-side) grasslands were replaced by farmland. Trophy hunting and a bounty placed on rhinoceroses by tea growers (the animals chewed their crops) pushed them to the brink of extinction. Today, the biggest problems are that very little prime habitat remains and poachers shoot the animals for their horns and other parts, which are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. In recent years, the greater one-horned Asian rhinoceros population has been growing slowly, thanks to habitat and protection programs in places like Nepal's Royal Chitwan National Park.

In 2007, the total population of One - Horned Rhinoceros was estimated to be 2,575 individuals, of which 2,200 lived in Indian protected areas:

    1)  in Kaziranga National Park: 2,048 (2009 estimate)— increased from 366 in 1966
    2)  in Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary: 108 — increased from 84 in 2002
    3)  in Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary: 81 — increased from 54 in 1987
    4)  in Orang National Park: 68 — increased from 35 in 1972
    5)  in Gorumara: 27 — increased from 22 in 2002
    6)  in Dudhwa National Park: 21
    7)  in Manas National Park: 3
    8)  in Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary: 2

Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary shelters the highest density of Indian rhinos in the world — with 84 individuals in 2009 in an area of 38.80 km2 (14.98 sq mi).

The population of rhinos in Nepal increased by 99 individuals from 2008 to 2011 and in 2011 totaled 503. Of these, 145 were male, 183 female 183 and 175 of unidentified gender; 332 were adults, 111 calves and 60 of intermediate age.

In Pakistan's Lal Suhanra National Park, two rhinos from Nepal were introduced.

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