The Rhinoceros, commonly abbreviated as rhino, is a group of five species of odd-toed ungulates from the family Rhinocerotidae. The Black Rhino and the White Rhino are native to Africa and then the Indian Rhinoceros, or greater one-horned rhinoceros, (Rhinoceros Unicornis), the Javan Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus) and the Sumatran Rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) are found in Southern Asia.
Rhinos are characterized by their large size (they remain some of the largest remaining megafauna on the planet, with all of the species able to reach weights in excess of a tonne or more), as well as the fact that they are all herbivores, possess a very thick protective skin that is formed from layers of collagen, have relatively small brains for mammals of their size, are almost prehistoric looking, and also have impressive horns. In fact the two African species and the Sumatran Rhinoceros actually have two horns each, whilst the Indian and Javan Rhinoceros only possess a single horn.
Rhinoceros are frequently poached and killed by humans for their horns. The horns are then bought and sold on the black market, primarily in Asian countries such as Vietnam, and are then used for ornamental purposes or as an aphrodisiac. Currently the cost of rhino horn by weight is more that the cost of gold on the black market, which is resulting in a staggering increase in the poaching of the animal, which in turn is increasing the risk of extinction to very serious levels. The horns are actually made of keratin, which is the same type of protein that makes up human hair and fingernails and therefore do not actually have any medicinal benefit! Three of the five species of rhino are now a critically endangered and at the current rate of poaching they are likely to be extinct in less that 15 years!
There are a number of great schemes in place at the moment dedicated to preserving the future of this magnificent beast and our clients can also help with this most worthy cause by providing donations that will help with the relocation of the animal to safer environments. Simply ask us for more details if this is of interest.
Africa – Okavango Delta (Botswana), Kruger National Park (South Africa), Phinda Game Reserve (South Africa), Hluhluwe Game Reserve (South Africa), Laikipia and Samburu (Northern Kenya), Masai Mara (Kenya), The Serengeti (Tanzania), Etosha National Park (Namibia)
South Asia / South-East Asia – The Indian Rhino can be found in Kaziranga National Park (India). There is actually very little chance nowadays of seeing the two rarest species of rhino, the Javan and the Sumatran, which are not only critically endangered but they are very secretive and live in dense tropical forests. The Sumatran Rhino is found in Sumatra and Borneo with small populations found in Gunung Leuser, Way Kambas and Bukit Barisan Selatan National Parks. A tiny population of Javan Rhino can be found in Ujung Kulon National Park in Java.