Great Indian Rhinoceros
The Great Indian Rhinoceros, also called the Greater One-horned Rhinoceros,
is characterized by the single horn on its nose and by the loose folds of
its thick skin. The horn is seen on both male and female Rhinos but not
young ones below a year in age. It consists of keratin - a protein present
in human hair and nails - and can grow from 20 to 60 cm in size. Adult male
Rhinos have the largest horns.
The Great Indian Rhinoceros is found in India, Bhutan and
Nepal in wildlife sanctuaries in the sub-Himalayan belt. It is found in
the Brahmaputra valley in Assam (where the largest population of Rhinos
worldwide exists in Kaziranga National Park), in the Chitwan valley in
Nepal and in lowland Bhutan.
The estimated population of wild rhinoceroses
in national parks worldwide is approximately 2400 of which 1600 are in
India, primarily in the Kaziranga and Manas wildlife sanctuaries in Assam
in North East India.
The Indian Rhinoceros was described
by early travelers as a unicorn because of its single horn. The Rhinoceros
has a somewhat pre-historic appearance and looks as if it has armor plates,
because of the loose folds of its thick hide, which is a dark brown or
blackish color and can also be gray in some cases. A fully-grown male
Rhino can reach up to 1.8 meters high and 3.6 meters long and can weigh
over 2 tonnes (or 2000 Kg). The distinctive horn of the Rhinoceros is
seen after Rhinos are a year old and can grow to a size of 20 - 60 cm.
The Indian Rhinoceros is found in marshy lowlands. Tall
grass, thick forests, and swamps are Rhino territory. The Rhino spends
a significant amount of time during the day, wallowing in mud or marshy
The Indian Rhinoceros feeds on grass, leaves and twigs.
It usually feeds in the morning and evening and spends the hot daytime
cooling off in a mud wallow. The prehensile upper lip of the Rhino helps
it in feeding.
The Indian Rhinoceros is usually a solitary animal.
Calves live with their mothers for several years. Male Rhinos are known
to fight over territory and during the mating season. The Rhino's horn
is used as a threatening display as well as to attack other male Rhinos
or any intruders in its territory. Rhinos can run fast, up to 55 Kmph
for short distances and rely on their sharp sense of smell and hearing.
Their eyesight is comparatively poor. Rhinos live for 30-45 years in the
wild and have been recorded as living up to 47 years in captivity.