Indian Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis)


Family:                    Rhinocerotidae.

Status:                     Endangered.

Size:                        Height 5 to 7 ft. at the shoulder, length 7 to 14 ft., weight 3,300 to 6,000 lbs.

Diet:                        Herbivore.

Characteristics:        Solitary.

Area:                       India, Nepal.

Offspring:                One calf, every two to three years.



·       All five rhino species are threatened with extinction and are included in the IUCN Red List.

·       Rhinoceros: from Greek, meaning nose and horn; unicornis: from Latin meaning one horn.

·       The Indian rhino and the African white rhino are the largest land mammals (after elephants).

·       Rhinos have approximately 10 vocalisations, including roars, snorts, and honks.

·       They’re believed to have lived in America, but became extinct there many years ago.



The Indian rhinoceros is a solitary animal, usually only found together when mating or when a mother has a dependent youngster (or two), although they do meet up at common watering and/or wallowing areas. In Java, rhinos live in forested areas but can be found grazing in grassy areas near rivers or swamps. They roll in mud at wallows to coat themselves all over for protection from the sun and from parasites. They eat a large variety of plants, including elephant grass, fruit, bamboo shoots, flowers and crops. Despite its vegetarian diet, the rhino has two long canine teeth in its lower jaw. Rhinos have a special front lip to enable them to grasp food. Both male and female rhinos have a single horn that is made of keratin, the same material found in human fingernails, and is highly valued in Chinese medicine. Each rhino has a territory of approximately 5 to 20 square miles, but their ranges overlap and they’re very tolerant of each other. Although rhinoceroses, especially the black rhino, are thought of as being aggressive and dangerous, but actually, they’re usually quite peaceful and shy, except when threatened. When angered or frightened, they charge at the danger and in that case, can be extremely dangerous. Although rhinos have poor eyesight, they have excellent hearing and sense of smell.



Although the Indian rhinoceros once ranged throughout Southeast Asia, most of the wild population today is found only in protected areas in India and Nepal. Despite the fact that they’re protected, the high prices (up to $60,000 for one kilogram of rhino horn) paid on the black market for their horns ensure that poaching remains a frequent occurrence. Four of the five rhinoceros species are nearing extinction because of this, even though studies show there is no scientific proof to the claims made about any medicinal qualities of rhino horn. The wild Indian rhino population now numbers approximately 1,500 and projects are underway to reintroduce populations to areas where they have been extirpated. One Nepal rhino population is protected by almost two guards for every rhino, and this kind of protection is has led to an increase of numbers in the last century (there were only 200 Indian rhinos in the wild in 1900).



There is no set mating season—mating may occur at any time throughout the year. The pregnancy lasts 15 to 16 months, and the female takes shelter in thick cover when she is due. After giving birth, the mother produces five to seven gallons of milk per day to feed her calf, which weighs up to 150 pounds. The baby nurses from 12 to 18 months, but begins to graze at two months, and may stay with its mother even after she has given birth to a younger sibling. Young Indian rhinos are sexually mature as early as four years for females, and nine years for males. An Indian rhino may live up to 50 years.