Why is the Indian rhinoceros special?

A charging rhino is one of the most impressive sights in nature. With its formidable thick-set horns, armour-like skin and tank- like body, the rhino looks like a top-class predator. In reality it is a shy, reclusive herbivore that prefers to graze in peace and wallow in muddy puddles.

The word rhinoceros is a combination of the Greek words ‘rhino’ (for nose) and ‘ceros’ (for horn).There are 5 species of rhino left in the world, of which 2 are found in Africa and 3 in southern Asia. Of the 3 Asian species, the great Indian horned rhino is the biggest. It is about 2 metres high at the shoulder and 3.5 metres long. An adult male weighs between 1,800 and 2,700 kg.

The rhino eats fruits, leaves and grass. It prefers to graze near water and is active during the early hours of the day. In the afternoons it will avoid the midday heat by lying in muddy water. The rhino is an excellent swimmer but has relatively poor eyesight. This sometimes leads it to charge at objects irrespective of actual threat. That is why it is always best to steer clear of rhinos. It moves at a top speed of 55 km/h and despite its bulk is nimble and can jump or change direction quickly.

Did you know that rhinos are supposed to be attracted to fires? If it sees a fire it will charge towards it and stamp it out with its feet! How’s that for an animal firefighter?

Found exclusively in India and Nepal, the Indian rhino’s saga is one of the few environmental success stories of the world. From a meagre 75 in 1905, their numbers have grown to 3500 in 2022. Today, the Indian rhino is the most populous of the three Asian species of rhino found on Earth. This majestic and priceless animal has hardly any predators except for humans who hunt it for its horns. Over the years, countless rhinos across the world have been mercilessly hacked to death for their horns, which are used in traditional medicines and as a mindless display of wealth. They are currently listed under ‘Vulnerable’ in the IUCN Red List.

Picture Credit : Google

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