Mandatory Disclosure

World Rhino Day

On September 22nd, World Rhino Day celebrates five species of rhinos around the world. From a conservation perspective, the day raises awareness of the plight of these beautiful beasts.

The five species of rhinos include Black, White, Greater One-horned, Sumatran, and Javan. At one time, rhinos were found throughout Eurasia and Africa. In the early 20th century, about 500,000 rhinos roamed the earth. Today, rhinos have a hard time surviving outside national parks and reserves.

Rhinos are mega-herbivores, part of a small and disappearing group of large herbivores that weigh over 1,000 kilograms and include the elephant and the hippopotamus. These large herbivores are shapers of their landscape and environment, and the rhino may well be a keystone species.By eating only certain kinds of grass–and trampling dense vegetation–rhinos indirectly affect smaller herbivores in their area, creating a cascade of effects that, in turn, affects other species, from tigers to birds.The Indian rhinoceros is also known to help in seed dispersion, moving large tree seeds from forested areas to grasslands through excreta.

In India, rhinos can now be found in parts of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Assam. In 2012, more than 91% of Indian rhinos lived in Assam.Within Assam, rhinos are concentrated within Kaziranga national park, with a few in Pobitara wildlife sanctuary. Kaziranga is home to more than 91% of Assam’s rhinos–and more than 80% of India’s count.

While everybody knows of India’s efforts and struggles to conserve the tiger, here’s one of India’s most successful conservation stories: From a population of barely 75 in 1905, there were over 2,700 Indian rhinos by 2012, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature–India (WWF-India), a global wildlife advocacy.In India, the greater one-horned rhino increased in number thanks to conservation efforts. Today, there are more than 3,500 of these rhinos.

However, they are still considered vulnerable. The Black rhino is also critically endangered. Of the five rhino species, white rhinos boast the highest numbers, with more than 20,000. Things that threaten rhinos include poaching, loss of habitat, disease, and natural disasters. Some people hunt rhinos because they believe the horns have powerful healing properties. They illegally sell the horns to be ground into powder. As a result, poachers hunt the animal only to harvest the horns.

The 10 interesting facts about rhinos:

  • A group of rhinos is called a crash.
  • Rhinos are herbivores.
  • Their horns are made from keratin, the same substance as our fingernails.
  • Rhinos have a great sense of hearing and smell but not sight.
  • They wallow in the mud to protect their skin from the sun.
  • They are grey in colour (even black and white rhinos).
  • Because of their thick skin and deadly horns, rhinos have no natural predators.
  • The Black rhino is the most aggressive of all the species.
  • The White rhino is the largest species and weighs up to 5,000 pounds.
  • Some rhinos have two horns.

So come, join us on Team Rhino as we ‘keep the five alive.’

By – Gunjan Khandekar
Primary Teacher