Swahili Name: Faru
Scientific Name: Black (Diceros bicornis), white (Ceratotherium simum)
Size: About 60 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 1 to 11/2 tons (black rhino), over 2 tons (white rhino)
Lifespan: 35 to 40 years
Habitat: Grassland and open savannas
Gestation: 16 months
Predators: Humans The rhinoceros is a large, primitive-looking mammal that in fact dates from the Miocene era millions of years ago. In recent decades rhinos have been relentlessly hunted to the point of near extinction. Since 1970 the world rhino population has declined by 90 percent, with five species remaining in the world today, all of which are endangered.
The white or square-lipped rhino is one of two rhino species in
Africa. It in turn occurs as two subspecies, the southern and the northern. The southern dwindled almost to extinction in the early 20th century, but was protected on farms and reserves, enabling it to increase enough to be reintroduced. The northern white rhino has recovered in Democratic Republic of Congo from about 15 in 1984 to about 30 in the late 1990s. This population, however, has recently been severely threatened by political conflict and instability.
The white rhino's name derives from the Dutch "weit," meaning wide, a reference to its wide, square muzzle adapted for grazing. The white rhino, which is actually gray, has a pronounced hump on the neck and a long face.
The black, or hooked-lipped, rhino, along with all other rhino species, is an odd-toed ungulate (three toes on each foot). It has a thick, hairless, gray hide. Both the black and white rhino have two horns, the longer of which sits at the front of the nose.
Black rhinos have various habitats, but mainly areas with dense, woody vegetation. White rhinos live in savannas with water holes, mud wallows and shade trees.
Rhinos live in home ranges that sometimes overlap with each other. Feeding grounds, water holes and wallows may be shared. The black rhino is usually solitary. The white rhino tends to be much more gregarious. 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 probably why they will sometimes charge without apparent reason, their sense of smell and hearing are very good. They have an extended "vocabulary" of growls, grunts, squeaks, snorts and bellows. 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. The rhino has a symbiotic relationship with oxpeckers, 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.
The black rhino is a browser, with a triangular-shaped upper lip ending in a mobile grasping point. It eats a large variety of vegetation, including leaves, buds and shoots of plants, bushes and trees. The white rhino, on the other hand, is a grazer feeding on grasses.
Caring for the Young
The closest rhino relationship is between a female and her calf, lasting from 2 to 4 years. As the older calves mature, they leave their mothers and may join other females and their young, where they are tolerated for some time before living completely on their own.
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 habitat 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 numbers is unfortunate in an era of increasing conservation and wildlife awareness, but efforts are underway to save the rhino from extinction
Did you know?
The black rhino declined drastically in the 1970s and 1980s due to poaching. To prevent extinction, many rhinos were translocated to fenced sanctuaries in the early 1990s. This effort appears to be succeeding, as 1994 was the first time in 20 years that rhino numbers did not decline.
The rhino is prized for its horn. Not a true horn, it is made of thickly matted hair that grows from the skull without skeletal support. The major demand for horn is in
Asia, where it is used in traditional medicine and ornamental carvings.
The young black rhinoceros begins his development remarkably early in life. At only ten minutes old (and weighing about thirty kilogrammes) he can already stand up. Three-quarters of an hour later he is filling up on milk, and one day later he is marching happily alongside, or behind, his mother. His mother’s unmistakable smell is, for him, the most important thing in life. In fact he suckles for two whole years and stays with his mothe three years. This explains his strong attaci mother which is also evident in tragic circums mother is killed by a poisoned arrow or bulle rhino will not abandon her and chases away that collect to feed on her great immobile bo
The baby rhinoceros allo’ peckers to sit on his ba time he is born. They eat ous parasites which infes
Glug, glug—this baby white rhinoceros suckles frequently, sometimes every half hour. His insistent suckling is probably more a need for physical cuntact than for food. The colour of this species is not actually white but grey, and when the adults and young are covered with different kinds of dust and mud, their skin appears yellow or reddish.
The young white rhino, unlike the black variety, always walks in front of his mother who pushes him with her horn to guide him.
Short sighted and bad tempered by nature, the rhinoceros from a very young age will charge anything in his path, even termites, apparently without reason or perhaps as a game. His head held low, he will also charge humans.
Only very few zoos have the young African black rhino together with the armoured Indian rhino, so called because of the deep folds of skin that look like armour plating. With its numerous warts the skin also ap
The young of large and small animals that wander away from their mothers can be set upon by ever-present predators. Perhaps the desperate cries of this baby black rhinoceros, being chased by a lion, will bring its mother running to its rescue