INDIAN RHINOCEROS

The Indian one-horned rhinoceros is one of the precious gems of Indian wildlife. This one-horned rhinoceros is native to parts of India and Nepal. In the ancient times, Rhinoceros was present in large number all across India but in present time they are confined to the only state of Assam and other adjoining areas. The Indian one-horned rhinoceros is the second largest rhinoceros in the world. The sighting of one horned rhinoceros is very common in the Kaziranga National Park which has given a very essential contribution in their conservation. Due to the ancient belief in the healing and magical powers of their horn, poaching has become highly prevalent which has led to the decrease in their population. IUCN has declared them to be endangered and after this the Government of India has accelerated the conservation process of one horned rhinoceros.

INDIAN ONE-HORNED RHINOCEROS FACTS

Scientific Name Rhinoceros Unicornis 
SpeciesR. Unicornis
DietHerbivore
StatusEndangered
LifestyleSolitary
Lifespan45 to 50 years
Top speed42 km/h

Physical Characteristics: The body of Indian rhino is hairless. They have very thick skin which is brownish grey in color. Their body is covered in skin folds that appear to be armor plated. The males and the females have a single black horn while the children do not have horns. They weigh nearly about 2,200 kg and are the largest of the Asian Rhinos. Their horn can grow as long as 45 cm in length. They use the horn in self-defense, digging up roots and breaking branches. The males can have body length of about 310 to 340 cm with a shoulder height of about 170 to 186 cm. The skin folds in their body help in regulating the body temperature. They have wart like bumps in the lower part of the body like hind legs. The eye sight of Indian rhino is relatively poor and they depend on hearing and smell for sensing the environment.

Diet: The One horned rhinoceros is herbivorous in nature. The live by feeding on plant based diet like grasses, leaves, flowers, fruits, berries, roots, floating aquatic plants etc., They feed in the early mornings and late evenings. Because of their massive size they do not have any predator in the wild, except that weak and newborns are hunted down by tigers and lions. Human has proven to be the greatest threat fpr the decline in rhino population.

Habitat: Once, the one horned rhinoceros was spread all across the northern plains of India, along the banks of Ganga and Brahmaputra rivers. They used to feed on the alluvial grasslands. Nowadays, due to heavy hunting ad poaching, the one horned rhinoceros has become concentrated only in the north eastern part of India. In India, it is found in the floodplains of West Bengal and Assam. About 1,885 rhinos were recorded in the Kaziranga National Park of Assam, 108 in Jaldapara National Park of West Bengal.

Threats: The one horned rhinoceros has been the prime victim of sports hunting since the late 1800s and early 1900s. During the British rule, the British Army did extensive hunting of rhinoceros in the Assam valley due to which the number of this animal there dropped down to only 12. Poaching has been the major threat to one horned rhinoceros. They are generally poached for their horns used in traditional Chinese medicine. Shooting, electrocution, poisoning, use of noose are some of the heinous ways in which this animal has been obliterated from Indian forests. Their major population is generally concentrated in Kaziranga National Park due to which they are more prone to endemic disease, natural disasters and inbreeding depression.

Conservation Acts: Since 1975, the Indian Rhinoceros has been declared as endangered. The Indo – Nepalese Government has taken major steps in protecting this animal since then. World Wide Fund has also given their precious contribution in conserving this animal. The Indian Government prohibited all hunting of rhinos in India. In 984 five rhinos were relocated to Dudhwa National Park. The Kaziranga National Park, Pobitra reserve forest of Assam which has the highest rhino density in India, Orang National Park of Assam, Lokhawa Reserve Forest are homes to this endangered animal.

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