What’s common between Kruger National Park in South Africa and Kaziranga National Park in India? Both these national parks have a large population of Rhinoceros, commonly abbreviated to Rhinos.
While Kruger National Park is home to the largest population of white rhinos in the world, Kaziranga National Park has the largest population of one-horned rhinoceros.
White rhinos and one-horned rhinos are among the five species of rhinoceros, black rhinoceros, Javan rhinoceros, and Sumatran rhinoceros are the other three. The names of black and white rhinos are misleading – as both are grey and are mainly found in Africa, and the remaining three are Asian rhino species.
Facts About Rhinos
Rhinoceroses are some of the largest ancient animals found on the planet, with their lineage dating back millions of years. They have survived through various geological eras.
Rhinos once roamed much of North America and Europe throughout Africa and Southeast Asia. Today, they only survive in pockets of protected areas in southern and eastern Africa and a handful of Asian countries.
Depending on the species, they can weigh anywhere from 450 to 3000 kilograms, but interestingly, they are herbivores and primarily graze on grasses, leaves, branches, fruits, and other plant materials. However, it is significant to mention that they spend much of their day feeding to maintain their large size.
The feeding behavior of Rhinos also has another function, as their selective grazing helps shape the vegetation structure in their habitats, influence plant species composition, and promote the growth of grasslands.
Another interesting fact about Rhinos is their running abilities; despite their massive size, they can run fast. Depending on the species, they can reach 40 to 64 kilometers per hour.
Male rhinos are called ‘bulls,’ females are called ‘cows,’ and the young ones are ‘calves,’ where Bulls are typically solitary animals and can defend their territory quite aggressively. In contrast, females tend to be more sociable.
A group of rhinos is called a ‘crash’ and makes different funny noises when communicating. During confrontations, they growl and make trumpet calls. Rhinos also communicate through their poo and urine.
Rhinoceros skin can be surprisingly sensitive. Despite their rugged appearance, they have susceptible skin, so they often wallow in mud, which helps protect their skin from insects and keeps them cool. These wallows become water sources for other animals during dry seasons and can create small ecosystems that support various plant and animal species.
If Elephants are distinctly recognized by their trunks, rhinos are known for their horns. Javan and greater one-horned rhinos only have one horn, whereas all the other rhino species have two horns. These are not actual horns but rather composed of keratin, the same substance found in human hair and nails.
Threats to Rhinos
Unfortunately, there is a long history of using rhino horns for carvings and perceived medicinal benefits. Therefore, poachers have heavily targeted Rhino horns, driving some species close to extinction.
In addition to poaching, Rhinos are also facing habitat loss due to deforestation over many years.
World Rhino Day
Every year, September 22 is celebrated as World Rhino Day to raise awareness about these wonderful and amazing creatures. It is essential to raise awareness about them because of the threats they face.
Here is a Change Started Instagram post highlighting some interesting facts about Rhinos.
Rhinos are keystone species in their ecosystems and play several vital roles in biodiversity and ecosystem health. These majestic animals play multifaceted roles in their ecosystems, from shaping vegetation to aiding in seed dispersal and supporting other species. Protecting rhinos is about preserving the health and diversity of entire ecosystems.
Here is a video on the Change Started YouTube Channel elucidating some interesting facts about Rhinos.