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Indian Rhinoceros | Online Record Book Preview


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Indian Rhinoceros - Species Detail

AKA: Great Indian rhinoceros, greater one-horned rhinoceros Gold: 0" Gold (Bow): 0"
Endangered: 12-2-70 India and Nepal Silver: 0" Silver (Bow): 0"
Bronze: 0" Bronze (Bow): 0"
Rhinoceros unicornis

Rinoceronte Indio (Sp), Indisches Nashorn (G), Rhinocéros de l'Inde (F). Also called great Indian rhinoceros or greater one-horned rhinoceros or greater one-horned Asian rhinoceros. "Rhinoceros" is from the Greek rhis or rhinos (nose) and keras or keratos (horn). The specific name is from the Latin unus (one) and cornu or cornus (animal horn).

DESCRIPTION Head and body length 10-1/2 to 12 feet (3.2 to 3.7 m). Tail length about 30 inches (75 cm). Shoulder height 6 to 6-1/2 feet (1.8 to 2.0 m). Weight up to 4,400 pounds (2,000 kg).

Largest of the three Asian rhinoceroses. A large, awkward-looking animal with a large head, short legs, small eyes and wide nostrils. It has three prominent folds of skin that give it an "armor-plated" appearance. The skin is very thick, hairless except for a fringe on the ears and some bristles on the tail, and covered with large tubercles. The fold of skin in front of the shoulder is not continued across the back of the neck in the same manner as the other two great folds. Color is gray to black. The single horn usually does not exceed one foot (30 cm) in length; however the record horn in the British Museum (Rowland Ward, 1909) is 24 inches (61 cm) long and more than 24 inches in circumference.

BEHAVIOR Usually solitary. A single calf is born between the end of February and the end of April, after a 16-month gestation period, and nurses for two years. Life span is 50 years or more.

Feeds mostly in the mornings and evenings, with the rest of the day spent sleeping. Diet consists of grasses, reeds and twigs. Bathes in water daily and frequently wallows in mud. Usually inoffensive and harmless, seeking to escape rather than attack. Occasionally will charge if wounded or if a calf is threatened. In a charge, the sharply pointed lower tusks are used to make sweeping cuts, with the horn not used.

HABITAT Tall grass and reed beds in swampy jungles.

DISTRIBUTION Formerly throughout the southern foothills of the Himalayas from Pakistan eastward through India and Nepal to Assam and Bengal. May also have been present in Indochina until the Middle Ages. Now restricted to a few places in Nepal and eastern India.

STATUS Listed as endangered by the USF&WS (1970) and IUCN and on Appendix I of CITES (1975). Its numbers had been considerably reduced in India by 1900; in 1910 British authorities banned hunting and established sanctuaries. Only about 400 survived in the late 1950s, but had increased to more than 1,000 by the early 1980s. Maintained in about 30 zoos, with an increasing proportion bred in captivity.

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