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Basic Facts ----of the RHINOCEROS - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Basic Facts ----of the RHINOCEROS. Status--endangered. Since 1970 the world rhino population has declined by 90 percent, with five species remaining in the world today, all of which are endangered. 11,000 rhinos left in the wild.

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Basic Facts

----of the RHINOCEROS

Status endangered

Since 1970 the world rhino population has declined by 90 percent, with five species remaining in the world today, all of which are endangered.

11,000 rhinos left in the wild

The rate of their decline is truly astounding: in the decade of the 1970s alone, half the world's rhino population disappeared. Today, less than 15 per cent of the 1970 population remains, an estimated 10,000 to 11,000 worldwide.

An extinct species of rhino that lived in Mongolia, (Baluchitherium grangeri), was the largest land mammal of all time. This hornless rhinoceros stood 18 feet (five and one-half meters) at the shoulder, was 27 feet (eight meters) long, and probably weighed 25 tons (23 metric tons), four times as much as today's African bull elephant. Climate change?

There currently are only 3,100 black, 11,700 white, 2,400 Indian, 300 Sumatran, and 60 Javan rhinos living in the wild, with a global captive population of about 1,200 (250 black, 780 white, 140 Indian, 15 Sumatran).

Status endangered1

There are four subspecies of the critically endangered black rhino, eastern, southwestern, southern central and western. The western subspecies is thought to be extinct.


inhabited the Earth for 60 million years

Rhinos have existed on Earth for more than 50 million years, at one time constituting a diverse array of species that lived throughout North America and Europe as well as in Africa and Asia.

Rhinos once roamed throughout Eurasia and Africa, and were known to early Europeans who depicted them in cave paintings.


Biologists estimate that wild rhinos live up to 35 years. In captivity, a rhino may live 40 years.

Basic features
Basic Features

Rhinos are also rather ill-tempered and have become more so in areas where they have been constantly disturbed. While their eyesight is poor, which is why they will often charge without apparent reason, their sense of smell and hearing are very good.

Rhinoceroses are universally recognized because of their massive bodies, stumpy legs and either one or two dermal horns. In some species, these may be short or altogether not obvious.

Dung deposited by rhinos marks their territory. During the day the species may rest several kilometers from their waterholes under dense cover, and only in the evening, through the night, and in the early morning do they become active. Rhinos are known to sleep both standing and lying on the ground and are fond of wallowing in muddy pools and sandy river-beds.

“Vocabulary" of growls, grunts, squeaks, snorts and bellows.

On the rhino's foot are three stubby toes. As it walks , only two of the three toes function right. Its bland gray skin camouflages it on stones and on some glimmering water.


The white rhino is the second largest land mammal next to the elephant. The five species range in weight from 750 pounds to 8,000 pounds and stand anywhere from four and a half to six feet tall.

The Indian Rhinoceros—over 1.8m

The White Rhinoceros—1.8m

The Black Rhinoceros—over 1.5m

The Javan Rhinoceros—1.5m

The Sumatran Rhinoceros—1.4m


Rhino (Diceros bicornis): 2,400

White Rhino (Ceratotherium simum): 7,500

Sumatran Rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis): 400

Javan Rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus): fewer than 100

Indian Rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis): more than 2,000

Today however, very few rhinos now survive outside national parks and reserves.


Rhino habitat ranges from savannas to dense forests in tropical and subtropical regions.

Southern Africa, Central Africa, Eastern Africa, Western Africa, South Asia, South East Asia

Biogeographic realm

Afro-tropical, Indo-Malayan


Rhinos are herbivores, meaning they eat only plants. White rhinos, with their square-shaped lips, are ideally suited to graze on grass. Other rhinos prefer to eat the foliage of trees or bushes.

never touch meat

Biggest mammal on land except for the elephant.


Rhinos use their horns not only in battle for territory or for females, they also use it to defend themselves from lions, tigers and hyenas.

The rhino has no sweat glands, so it keeps cool by rolling in different liquids.

When attacking, the rhino lowers its head, snorts, breaks into a gallop reaching speeds of 30 miles an hour, and gores or strikes powerful blows with its horns. Still, for all its bulk, the rhino is very agile and can quickly turn in a small space.

Even though they travel, they try to drink from the same pond and water source.


Males and females frequently fight during courtship, sometimes leading to serious wounds inflicted by their horns. After mating, the pair go their separate ways. A calf is born 14 to 18 months later. Although they nurse for a year, calves are able to begin eating vegetation one week after birth.


Humans. Man is the cause of the demise of the rhino. In the wild, the adult black or white rhino has no true natural predators and, despite its size and antagonistic reputation, it is extremely easy for man to kill. A creature of habit that lives in a well-defined home range, it usually goes to water holes daily, where it is easily ambushed. The dramatic decline in rhino is unfortunate in an era of increasing conservation but efforts are underway to save the rhino from extinction.

Even though the rhino is feared, it has few predators who try to feed on it. A lot of the time, tigers will sneak up on one of the young and try to capture it. If the mother rhino sees this, she will slash her horn at him.

The rhinos are also being killed by some members of the cat family such as tigers and cheetahs. These cats prey on the young, rather than the mother of father. Pollution such as toxic waste and pesticide are on the grass, and when the rhinos eat grass, they die. The population is declining because of humans.

Its ancestors, like the Great horned rhino, lived on this land with the dinosaurs.


Valued for their horns, they face a serious threat from poaching. Some cultures believe that the powdered rhino horn will cure everything from fever to food poisoning and will enhance sexual stamina.

The result was a seven-fold increase in the per capita income in Yemen, a rise in wealth that made rhino horn dagger handles within the reach of almost everyone. This small country, with a population of 6 million at the time, suddenly became the world's largest importer of rhino horn.

Unlike most large mammals, habitat loss has not been a significant factor in the decline of rhinos. Rather, poaching for their horn has decimated rhino populations.

It was not until the 1970s that rhinos declined dramatically, due to a surprising cause: the soaring price of oil. Young men in the Arab country of Yemen covet rhino horn for elaborately-carved dagger handles, symbols of wealth and status in that country. Until the 1970s, few men could afford these prized dagger handles. But Yemen and other Middle Eastern countries are rich in oil, and prices for this "black gold" climbed dramatically in that decade due to a worldwide oil shortage.


The value of rhino horn made it enormously profitable to poach rhinos and sell them on the black market. For example, in 1990, the two horns from a single black rhino brought as much as $50,000. Just like poaching for elephant ivory, poaching for rhino horn is simply too profitable for many subsistence farmers and herders to resist.

Rhino horn is so valuable though, that poachers have killed guards to get at the rhino.

The rhino's plight has become so desperate that in some places conservation officials tranquilize rhinos and saw off their horns so poachers will have no cause to kill them. It is not known whether removing the horn impairs the rhino's ability to survive or reproduce.

Methods taken for protection
Methods Taken for Protection

Protection of elephant habitat was not enough. Rhinos were killed in protected areas because governments could not afford to patrol the parks to stop poachers.

Some researchers are studying rhinos to see how humans can increase the population of these rhinos.

All trade in rhino horn is prohibited, since rhinos are protected under Appendix I of CITES. The ban on trade in rhino horns has not been very successful, however. A thriving black market in rhino horn has continued.

In the white rhinoceros, subfertility (lack of normal reproductive cyclicity, mate incompatibility, conception failure and pregnancy loss) is a major challenge.

In 1993, the United States threatened to ban legal imports of wildlife from China, which has a large wildlife trade with the United States, if China did not start taking measures to stop illegal wildlife trade. In response, China made it illegal to sell, buy, trade, or transport rhino horns and tiger bones. Illegal stockpiles of rhino horns and tiger bones remain, however.

Methods taken for protection1
Methods Taken for Protection

Captive black rhinoceroses (unlike their free-ranging counterparts or the captive white rhino) develop unusual diseases that adversely effect animal health.

In all species of rhino, high stillbirth rates continue to plague our ability to propagate these species.


The rhino has a symbiotic relationship with ox peckers [cattle egret?], also called tick birds. In Swahili the tick bird is named "askari wa kifaru," meaning "the rhino's guard." The bird eats ticks it finds on the rhino and noisily warns of danger. Although the birds also eat blood from sores on the rhino's skin and thus obstruct healing, they are still tolerated

May be the source of the belief in unicorns, legendary animals whose horn was said to be a panacea for all types of ailments. In 1298, the Venetian explorer Marco Polo described Sumatran rhinos as unicorns saying:

“There are wild elephants in the country, and numerous unicorns, which are very nearly as big. They have hair like that of a buffalo, feet like those of an elephant, and a horn in the middle of the forehead, which is black and very thick.”

People thought that the rhinos horn is made of ivory, but it is isn't. In fact, the horn is made of packed together strands of hair called keratin.


As early as the 5th century B.C., rhino horn was believed capable of rendering some poisons harmless. In Borneo, people used to hang a rhino's tail in a room where a woman was giving birth, believing it would ease labor pains. Asians used rhino horn in traditional medicines for a thousand years without threatening the species' survival.

Egrets and other birds can be found with rhinos, feeding on the species external parasites.