Rhinoceros – The Real Life Unicorn

Rhinoceros are a group of extant species of herbivorous, odd-toed ungulates.  The Rhinoceros are one of the last remaining of the Earth’s megafauna.  The word Rhinoceros originates from Greek, Rhino meaning nose and Ceros meaning horn, thus nosehorn, thus are the Planet’s real-life unicorns!

Regrettably however, all five species of Rhinoceros are in danger of extinction within the next ten years, with three of the five species being listed as critically endangered, whilst the other two species linger on the border of endangered and critically endangered.  There are a number of factors which are detrimentally affecting the Rhinoceros, including deforestation and habit loss, however poaching is the one factor that is adversely affecting Rhinoceros more than any other factor.  Wildlife crime and trade is killing off Rhinoceros faster than they can breed, and thus the species is fighting for survival.

Rhinoceros horn has been used as status-symbols, ornaments and trophies, and is falsely believed to have medicinal benefits, however it has been scientifically proven that a Rhino horn is useless unless attached to the Rhino’s face.  Many Asian cultures believe a Rhino horn can cure erectile dysfunction, stem-cell damage, hangovers, headaches and blood-diseases, however despite ancient beliefs, a horn has absolutely no medicinal properties what-so-ever.  In fact, Rhino horn is made of keratin, the same substance your hair and nails are made from.

Sadly, one of the oldest species on the planet is facing extinction, and if current poaching levels remain the same, may not see the year 2025.

One of the greatest tools we have in protecting this incredible species is to educate and share knowledge, so here’s a few facts about the resilient, peaceful, beautiful animals we know as real-life unicorns.

WHITE RHINOCEROS / SQUARE-LIPPED RHINOCEROS:
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  • Found on the south east of the African continent.
  • The Square-Lipped Rhino has two horns.
  • Males can reach up to 2,500kg and females around 2,000kg.
  • Despite the name, there is no colour difference between White and Black Rhinoceros.The White Rhino actually got the name due to a language mistranslation. The Dutch named it the Wide Rhino (because of it’s wide, sqaure lip) and the English mistranslated the word to white, thus the White Rhino.
  • The White Rhino grazes on grasses.  Their broad upper lip is adjusted to this type of food, and way of eating.  They can eat up to 100kg a day!
  • White Rhino are commonly seen in groups and will often make friendships.  However, adult bulls are solitary and rather territorial, only associating with females in oestrus.
  • White Rhino have a gestation period of approximately 16 months.  Females usually give birth for the first time at the age of 6-7 years.  The calf will stay with it’s mother for three to four years, until another baby is on the way.
  • The Northern White Rhino is critically endangered with only 4 individuals left on the planet.  One of which lives in a zoo.  Breeding between the last three wild White Rhino cannot occur, as there is just one male.  The older female is ageing and is no longer capable of dealing with the stresses of mating, whilst the younger female is, in a unfortunate twist of fate, is infertile.
  • The total of Southern White Rhino remains unclear, with some estimates claiming 25,000, while some estimate as little as 10,000 remain.

BLACK RHINOCEROS / HOOK- LIPPED RHINOCEROS:
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  • Found on the south east of the continent of Africa.
  • The Hooked-Lipped Rhino has two horns.
  • Males can reach up to 1,350 kg and females up to 900 kg.
  • Black Rhinos are browsers. They hold their head much higher than the White Rhino, and crane their necks upward,  which allows them to feed on the leaves of bushes or trees.
  • Another distinguishable characteristic differentiating the Black from the White Rhino, is that Black Rhino has a hooked lip, which is related to their eating habits. The Black Rhinos upper lip can be stretched half a foot, and is used like a trunk for taking up food and putting it into it’s mouth.
  • They tend to be much more aggressive than the White Rhino.  Or more sensitive.  All Rhinoceros species have bad eyesight, therefore relying heavily on hearing and smell.  As they cannot see well, when threatened, they will attack to defend themselves.
  • They are solitary and territorial, but they have been found socializing with each other at the waterhole overnight, but will always leave the party alone.
  • The Black Rhino reaches sexual maturity at three or four years old.  The gestation period of a black rhino is 15-17 months.
  • The Western Black Rhino was declared extinct in 2011.
  • There are only about 4,000 Black Rhino remaining.

GREATER ONE-HORNED RHINOCEROS / INDIAN RHINOCEROS:
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  • Rhinoceros Unicornis are the proof unicorns are REAL. The Indian Rhino has just one horn.
  • They weigh between 1,800 and 2,700 kg.
  • Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros are solitary, except when sub-adults or adult males gather at wallows or to graze.
  • The gestation period of a Greater-One Horned is between 15-16 months. Females begin breeding at around 4 years old, and they will have a calf every 3-4 years.
  • They are very good swimmers and can actually dive to feed under water.
  • They feed on a wide variety of plants, mostly grasses but also leaves, branches, trees, fruit and plants they find under water.
  • There is only about 3,000 left in the wild, and live in small areas at the north of the Indian sub-continent and into Nepal and Bhutan.

SUMATRAN / HAIRY / ASIAN TWO-HORNED RHINOCEROS:
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  • The Sumatran Rhino is the oldest living mammal on the planet, having roamed the earth longer than any other living mammal species.
  • This species of rhino is the closest living relative to the famous Woolly Rhinoceros that lived in the frigid lands of Europe and Asia during the ice-age.
  • The Sumatran Rhino is the smallest species of rhino and the only Asian rhino with two horns.
  • The Asian Two-Horned is the smallest species of Rhinoceros, weighing between 500-800 kg.
  • Otherwise known as the Hairy Rhino, they are, as the name suggests, covered in a thin layer of reddish-brown hair.
  • They are generally solitary animals.
  • The Sumatran Rhino is both fast and agile, and can even climb mountains.
  • The Sumatran rhino has a 15-16 months gestration period. Sumatran rhinos will have a single calf every 4-5 years.
  • The Sumatran rhino is a browser, consuming a diverse range of tropical forest plant life.
  • Sadly the oldest living mammal is on the brink of extinction, with only around 100 individuals remaining, clinging to survival on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra.

JAVAN  / SUNDA  / LESSER ONE-HORNED RHINOCEROS:
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  • The Lesser One-Horned Rhino is comparable in size to the African Black Rhino.
  • They are browsers, with an pointed upper lip that can be used to grasp food and bring it to the mouth.
  • As most other species of Rhinoceros, the Javan Rhino are usually solitary.
  • A slow breeder, the Javan Rhino gestration period is approximately 16 to 19 months.
  • The Javan Rhino is possibly the rarest large mammal on earth, with only between 35-45 individuals remaining.
  • The Javan Rhino exist in a single population in Ujung Kulon peninsular, western Java, Indonesia.
  • The last Sunda Rhino in Vietnam was found dead in 2010, shot in the leg and his horn removed as a result of poaching.

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