Author’s Note: This is a new series that I will be starting on my page. At least once a week I will attempt to upload a story about a specific animal. These articles can be used by homeschoolers to increase children’s knowledge about different sorts of creatures. Everything from wild animals to pets will be spotlighted so if you’re an animal lover stay tuned!
Warning: Video is graphic!
The rhinoceros, more commonly known as simply “rhino,” is a large horned animal. The word “rhinoceros” comes from the Greek “rhino” (which means “nose”) and “ceros” (which means “horn”). Rhinos are herbivores; they only eat plants like grasses, shrubs and leaves. Rhinos are related to zebras, horses and tapirs. They have poor eyesight but good hearing and, like pigs, they cool down by rolling in mud. Rhinos are usually solitary creatures, but when a group of them are together they are called a “crash.” There are five types of rhinos. The White and Black rhinos are native to Africa while the Javan, Sumatran and Indian rhinos are native to Asia. The smallest rhino, the Sumatran, are usually around 1750 pounds which the largest rhinos, the White, can reach 5000 pounds. Javan and Indian rhinos only have one horn while Black, White and Sumatran have two. Rhino babies are called “calfs” and the mother rhinos generally give birth to one calf at a time after being pregnant for 16 months. Depending on the type of rhino, calfs usually have birth weights of 88 to 140 pounds!
Rhinoceros can live between 40-45 years. Their only natural predators are humans and, unfortunately, that single predator has caused the rhino populations to decline dramatically. Rhino horns are made of a substance known as “keratin” (the same substance in human fingernails) and many “traditional medicines,” especially ones from Asia, consider rhino horn to be a potent healer for various ailments. There is no proof that rhino horn has any such properties whatsoever, but the belief that it does makes rhino horn high in demand, with people willing to pay astronomical prices for it. Hence, poaching of rhinos has increased to the point that they are among the most endangered animals in the world.
Luckily, there are many good organizations working to protect rhinos. Savingrhinos.org, savetherhino.org, and rhinos.org all have identical missions to preserve the rhino species. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has also made incredible strides to save rhinos, including placing them in protected wildlife parks with guards to ensure their safety. All of these organizations have websites that offer great facts about rhinos, information about how to save them and include many photos of these magnificent creatures.
Rhinos are popular attractions in many zoos. In fact, the Bronx Zoo has a segment of their website dedicated to facts about the ones that they house. Despite the pampered lifestyles offered to rhinos in zoos, keeping them in the wild lands that they are native to is important for the sustainment of wildlife. Hence, the more we learn about rhinos then the more ways we can find to help save them.