All that You Must Know about Rhinos Around the World

Rhinos were once widespread across Europe, Asia, and Africa, as depicted in early European cave paintings. At the dawn of the 20th century, their population stood at 500,000, but by 1970, it dwindled to 70,000.

Today, in the animal kingdom, only about 27,000 remain due to persistent poaching and habitat loss. The black, Javan, and Sumatran rhinos are critically endangered, with Javan rhinos surviving in one Indonesian national park after their mainland subspecies became extinct in Vietnam in 2011.

Successful conservation efforts have boosted the greater one-horned rhino population from 200 to approximately 3,700, leading to a status change from endangered now to vulnerable. Nevertheless, poaching and habitat loss continue to threaten their existence.

The three rhinos of Asia

Having delved into African rhinos, let us redirect our attention to their Asian counterparts.

The trio of Asian rhinos

  • The Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros (Indian rhino)
  • The Javan (Lesser One-Horned) Rhinoceros
  • The Sumatran Rhinoceros

Indian rhinos

These are confined to South and Southeast Asia. They primarily inhabit Indonesia, Nepal, and India, as well as the island of Borneo.

The scientific name Rhinoceros unicorns is bestowed upon the Indian rhino, derived from Latin roots where “uni” signifies one, and “cornis” denotes horn.

As the largest among the three Asian rhino species, the Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros inhabits the alluvial Terai-Duar grasslands and riverine forests situated at the foothills of the Himalayas, extending across India and Nepal.

In India, the Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros primarily inhabits the Brahmaputra valley of Assam, while in Nepal, it is found in the Terai grasslands. Alongside the African White Rhino, the Indian rhino is at the verge of distinction, being one of the largest rhino species globally.

The Indian rhino ranks as the second-largest animal in Asia, trailing only the Asian elephant in size. Surprisingly agile, despite their considerable weight, they can achieve speeds of up to 55 km/h.

Despite their massive size, they primarily graze on grass, with their diet occasionally supplemented by fruits, leaves from shrubs and trees, and aquatic plants.

Javan rhinos

The Javan rhinoceros, often referred to as the Lesser One-Horned Rhino, is a smaller counterpart to the Indian rhino. Like their larger relatives, they feature loose folds of skin, contributing to an armor-plated appearance.

Presently, Javan rhinos are exclusively located within the tropical forests of Indonesia’s Java, while Sumatran rhinos inhabit dense tropical and subtropical forests across the lowlands and highlands of Borneo and Sumatra.

Sumatran rhinos

Sumatran rhinos are unique among Asian rhinos in possessing two horns, distinguishing themselves as the smallest rhino species.

Although distinct species, the three Asian rhinos share certain characteristics. They possess poor vision but compensate with excellent olfactory senses, sometimes communicating through scent, including by smelling each other’s dung.

Similar to their African counterparts, Asian rhinos also exhibit a fondness for mud, utilizing it for cooling and protection from parasites. Furthermore, they display remarkable swimming abilities, effortlessly navigating rivers.

All are in danger

Unfortunately, all three Asian rhino species face grave threats from human activities, including poaching for their horns, habitat loss due to human encroachment, and habitat fragmentation caused by development. These anthropogenic factors jeopardize their survival and necessitate urgent conservation efforts.

Darlene Santiago

Darlene Santiago