Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The One-horned Rhino

The Indian Rhinoceros or the Great One-horned Rhinoceros or the Asian One-horned Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) is a beautiful mammal found in Assam and parts of Nepal, Bhutan. Because of illegal poaching one-horned rhino is now an endangered animal.

The Indian Rhinoceros was the first rhinoceros known to Europeans. Rhinoceros from the Greek, "rhino" meaning nose and "ceros" meaning horn. Unicornis is from the Latin, "uni" meaning one and "cornis" also meaning horn. The Indian Rhinoceros is monotypic, meaning there are no distinct subspecies. Rhinoceros unicornis was the type species for the rhinoceros family, first classified by Carolus Linnaeus in 1758.

In size One-Horned Rhinoceros is equal to that of the white rhino in Africa. Not including the white rhino, it is the largest of all rhinos, and probably the one with the best armor, along with the Javan rhino's armor. Fully grown males are larger than females in the wild, weighing from 2200- 3000 kg (4,800 - 6,600 lb). Female Indian rhinos weigh about 1600 kg. The Indian Rhino is from 1.7 to 2m tall (5.7 to 6.7 feet) and can be up to 4m (13 feet) long. The record-sized specimen of this rhino was approximately 3500 kg.

The Great One-Horned Rhinoceros has a single horn, which is present in both males and females, but not on newborn young. The horn is pure keratin and starts to show after about 6 years. In most adults the horn reaches a length of about 25 centimeters, but have been recorded up to 57.2 centimeters in length. Its horn is naturally black.

Rhinoceros has thick, silver-brown skin which becomes pinkish near the large skin folds that cover its body. Males develop thick neck-folds. Its upper legs and shoulders are covered in wart-like bumps. It has very little body hair, aside from eyelashes, ear-fringes and tail-brush.

The Indian Rhinoceros can run at speeds of up to 25 mph for short periods of time and is also an excellent swimmer. It has an excellent sense of hearing and smell and relatively poor eyesight. In captivity, four are known to have lived over 40 years, the oldest living to be 47.

At present, there are less than 2500 one-horned rhinos in the world. The Kaziranga National Park and Manas National Park in Assam, Pobitora reserve forest in Assam, Orang National park of Assam, Laokhowa reserve forest of Assam and Royal Chitwan National Park in Nepal are the natural homes of One-horned Rhinoceros.

Indian rhinos have few natural enemies, except for tigers. Tigers sometimes kill unguarded calves, but adult rhinos are less vulnerable due to their size. Humans are the only other animal threat. The Indian rhino is illegally poached for its horn, which some cultures in East Asia believe has healing and potency powers and therefore is used for Traditional Chinese Medicine and other Oriental medicines.