Rhinoceros

Family: Rhinocerotidae


Rhinos are unmistakable mega-herbivores from southern Asia and Africa. In all there are 5 species worldwide with two native to Africa, the white rhino which is twice as bulky as the black rhino. All rhinos are in danger of becoming extinct in the wild, in fact due to poaching this could happen by 2020. In 2007 13 rhinos were poached for their horn in South Africa. The following year this surged to 83 and in 2013 1,004 were killed. Rhino horn is used in East Asia for ornamental or traditional medicinal purposes. Rhino horn is made of keratin, the same type of protein which make up our finger/toe nails and hair. For more rhino facts please visit the white rhino and black rhino pages.

Kingdom : Animalia
Phylum : Chordata
Class : Mammalia
Order : Perissodactyla
Family : Rhinocerotidae

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In 2007 roughly 20 rhinos were poached for their horn. The following year this surged to 83 and in 2013 1,004 were killed. If poaching continues at its current rate rhinos will be extinct in the wild by 2020.

When fleeing from danger a white rhino’s calf will often run ahead of its mother whereas a black rhino calf will usually follow behind.

Rhino horn is made of keratin, the same stuff as our finger and toe nails. This grows at between 2 and 7 cm a year. Like hair, rhino horn is not attached to the bone but grows from the skin.

Whilst rhinos wallow in muddy pools terrapins will eat parasites such as ticks off their skin.

To compensate for its poor eye sight, rhinos have an exceptionally good sense of smell. This is reflected by their huge nasal cavity.

Following a mud wallow rhinos will visit a rubbing post such as a termite mound, tree, log or rock to rub the dried mud off along with any dead parasites. Such is the regular use of these posts they can become highly polished.

Horns first evolved in the dinosaurs and then in rhinos.

A rhino’s hearing is very good. This is aided by ears which rotate independently of one another to detect sound. Even during sleep its ears will instinctively move in different directions to detect the sound of possible danger.