RHINO

RHINOCEROS

Rhinoceros

Rhinoceros , often abbreviated as rhino, is a group of five extant species of odd-toed ungulates in the family Rhinocerotidae . Two of these species are native to Africa and three to Southern Asia.

Members of the rhinoceros family are characterized by their large size (they are some of the largest remaining megafauna, with all of the species able to reach one tonne or more in weight); as well as by an herbivorous diet; a thick protective skin, 1.5–5 cm thick, formed from layers of collagen positioned in a lattice structure; relatively small brains for mammals this size (400–600 g); and a large horn. They generally eat leafy material, although their ability to ferment food in their hindgut allows them to subsist on more fibrous plant matter, if necessary. Unlike other perissodactyls, the two African species of rhinoceros lack teeth at the front of their mouths, relying instead on their powerful premolar and molar teeth to grind up plant food.


Speaking out Against Rhino Poaching
Rhinoceros are killed by humans for their horns, which are bought and sold on the black market, and which are used by some cultures for ornamental or traditional medicinal purposes. East Asia, specifically Vietnam, is the largest market for rhino horns. Rhino horns cost as much as gold on the black market. People grind up the horns and then consume them believing the dust has therapeutic properties. The horns are made of keratin, the same type of protein that makes up hair and fingernails. Both African species and the Sumatran rhinoceros have two horns, while the Indian and Javan rhinoceros have a single horn.


THE WORLD RHINO POPULATION HAS FALLEN BY MORE THAN 90% IN PAST 30 YEARS .WHEREAS 30 SPECIES OF RHINO ONCE ROAMED THE PLANET,ONLY 5 SPECIES REMAIN TODAY,AND ALL OF THEM ARE THREATENED IN SOME WAY,WITH 3 SPECIES BEING LISTED AS CRITICALLY ENDANGERED. THE CURRENT THREAT TO RHINO IS DEMAND OF RHINO HORNS FOE MEDICAL AND CULTURAL USES


Distribution and habitat

One-horned rhinos once ranged across the entire northern part of the Indian Subcontinent, along the Indus,Ganges and Brahmaputra River basins, from Pakistan to the Indian-Burmese border, including parts of Nepal,Bangladesh and Bhutan. They may have also existed in Myanmar, southern China and Indochina. They prefer the alluvial plain grasslands of the Terai and Brahmaputra basin. As a result of habitat destruction and climatic changes their range has gradually been reduced so that by the 19th century, they only survived in the Terai grasslands of southern Nepal, northern Uttar Pradesh, northern Bihar, northern Bengal, and in the Brahmaputra Valley of Assam.


Diet

Indian rhinoceros are grazers. Their diets consist almost entirely of grasses, but they also eat leaves, branches of shrubs and trees, fruits, and submerged and floating aquatic plants. They feed in the mornings and evenings. They use their prehensile lips to grasp grass stems, bend the stem down, bite off the top, and then eat the grass. They tackle very tall grasses or saplings by walking over the plant, with legs on both sides and using the weight of their bodies to push the end of the plant down to the level of the mouth. Mothers also use this technique to make food edible for their calves. They drink for a minute or two at a time, often imbibing water filled with rhinoceros urine.


Richard Bangs' Adventure With Purpose: Assam India (Trailer)

Reproduction

Captive males breed at five years of age, but wild males attain dominance much later when they are larger. In one five-year field study, only one rhino estimated to be younger than 15 years mated successfully. Captive females breed as young as four years of age, but in the wild, they usually start breeding only when six years old, which likely indicates they need to be large enough to avoid being killed by aggressive males. Their gestation period is around 15.7 months, and birth interval ranges from 34–51 months.

In captivity, four rhinos are known to have lived over 40 years, the oldest living to be 47.


Threats

Sport hunting became common in the late 1800s and early 1900s.[2] Indian rhinos were hunted relentlessly and persistently. Reports from the middle of the 19th century claim that some military officers in Assam individually shot more than 200 rhinos. By 1908, the population in Kaziranga had decreased to around 12 individuals. In the early 1900s, the species had declined to near extinction.

Poaching for rhinoceros horn became the single most important reason for the decline of the Indian rhino after conservation measures were put in place from the beginning of the 20th century, when legal hunting ended. From 1980 to 1993, 692 rhinos were poached in India. In India's Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary, 41 rhinos were killed in 1983, virtually the entire population of the sanctuary. By the mid-1990s, poaching had rendered the species extinct there.

In 1950, Chitwan’s forest and grasslands extended over more than 2,600 km2 (1,000 sq mi) and were home to about 800 rhinos. When poor farmers from the mid-hills moved to the Chitwan Valley in search of arable land, the area was subsequently opened for settlement, and poaching of wildlife became rampant. The Chitwan population has repeatedly been jeopardized by poaching; in 2002 alone, poachers have killed 37 animals to saw off and sell their valuable horns.


In India

In 1910, all rhino hunting in India became prohibited. In 1984, five rhinos were relocated to Dudhwa National Park — four from the fields outside thePabitora Wildlife Sanctuary and one from Goalpara.