There are five major species of rhinoceros now existing in the world, and the Indian rhinoceros is one of the most significant varieties among it. Indian rhinos are such fascinating and unique animals. Even though there are initiatives to protect this endangered species of animals, rhinos are facing the threat of extinction all across the globe due to the unethical human intrusion into their natural habitats.
In this article, we will have an overview of the natural habitat of rhinos and some interesting facts about Indian rhinos to assist in the conservation efforts.
The one-horned rhinos
Animals used to get their names due to any notable specialty in them. Some get their name after their geographical location when some others get named based on their unique physical features. Sometimes, both of these come into consideration while naming an animal.
A classic example of this naming convention is Indian rhinoceros (scientific name is Rhinoceros unicornis). The ‘Indian’ part of its name refers to the geographical terrain where they are largely found. The Greek origin or rhinoceros means nose-horned, which refers to its unique physical specialty of having horn/s.
Indian rhinos are also called as one-horned rhino, which also refers to their physical trait of having only one horn. In fact, there are other species of rhinos which have two horns as Black and White rhinos.
The habitat of Indian rhinos
As the name suggests, the Indian rhinos geographic centricity is India. They are mostly found in the northern parts of India, close to the Himalayan range of mountains. As an extension to Indian terrain, Indian rhinos are also found in rhinoceros habitat in southern Nepal alongside the Himalayas where Nepal borders India. During the past, Indian rhinos were noted to be spread across a wider territory, but as their numbers dwindled over time, seems they have become more restricted and sticking to remote habitats.
It is found that Indian rhinos mostly live in the floodplains near to the river. The major reason for it is that Indian rhinos as grazers and the soil in floodplains grow a variety of vegetation, which is perfect for these grass eaters. These rhinos also move into deeper forest and swamps too near to the floodplains to explore more grass fields.
This part of the world where Indian rhino species live are largely populated and mostly surrounded by humans. So, rhinos also sometimes live in human-made forests of fields. Rhinos tend to live a solitary life except for a mother and baby.
Rhinos are huge animals by default (second largest among land mammals), and an adult male rhino may be more than feet in height and may weigh above 5500 pounds. Indian rhinos have gray skin and wrinkles all over their thick skin. Rhinos have very poor eyesight that they won’t even be able to see an object about 30 meters away clearly. However, they have an excellent sense of smell and hearing ability, which make up their vision impairment. The upper lip of Indian rhinos is prehensile, which means it can be used easily to grip things easily. This lip shape helps them to pull up grass and leaves to eat.
However, Indian rhinos suffered a huge drop in the late 1900s. They were hunted for the horn to be used as medicine and for ornamental use. In addition, human invasion caused the destruction of much of their habitats too as the fertile soil on the floodplains were largely converted into farms. Now, there are a lot of initiatives there to safeguard Indian rhino species, many of which are hopefully showing some good results.