The Greater One-Horned Rhino or Indian Rhino is the second heaviest rhino and is primarily found in north-eastern India and Nepal. Fully grown males are larger than females weighing 2000kg – 2300kg while females weigh approximately 1400- 1600kg. The Greater One-Horned Rhino is from 1.7 to 2m tall and can be up to 4m in length. They have a single horn which is made from keratin that can reach lengths between 20cm and 61cm. The Greater One-Horned Rhino’s hearing and sense of smell is acute, but they have poor vision and cannot see a stationary animal 30 metres away. The Greater One-Horned Rhino can run at speeds of up to 40km/h for short periods of time and is also an excellent swimmer. Greater One-Horned Rhinos can live up to 40 years in human care.
This prehistoric looking rhinoceros has thick, silver-brown skin with large skin folds that look like armour plating. Males develop thick neck folds and their upper legs and shoulders are covered in wart like bumps. They have very little body hair, aside from eye lashes, ear fringes and tail brush.
Males can breed at nine years of age but because of competition from older males in the wild, many don’t mate until they are about 10 years old. Females reach sexual maturity at five years and have their first calves when between six and eight years. The female whistles when in season so that males know when she is ready to mate. The gestation period is approximately 16 months. A single calf is born at intervals of about three years. At birth a calf is usually about 60cm tall and weights 36 – 57kgs.
Habitat and Distribution
The Greater One-Horned Rhino lives in dense stands of tall grasses either on plains or swampy areas near rivers. Greater One-Horned Rhinos once ranged from Pakistan across northern India to Nepal, Bhutan and the border of Myanmar (Burma) and perhaps even further into southern China. Today most live in parks in India and Nepal including the Chitwan National Park and Kaziranga National Park. The Greater One-Horned Rhino are generally solitary animals, feeding under dense cover of tall trees or grasses, and spending hours wallowing in mud, which protects their skin.
The Greater One-Horned Rhino is a grazer, eating a large proportion of grasses but also consuming leaves, branches, fruits and submerged and floating aquatic plants. While they are mainly grazers, the rhino uses its upper prehensile lip to grasp longer grasses and shrubs.
The Greater One-Horned Rhino is listed as vulnerable. The major threats to the Greater One-Horned Rhino are illegal poaching for its horn, which is used in traditional Asian medicines, and habitat loss. The Greater One-Horned Rhino is one of the greatest success stories in rhino conservation. With strict protection from Indian and Nepalese wildlife authorities, Greater One-Horned Rhino numbers have recovered from fewer than 200 earlier in the 20th century to as many as 2,850 today. However, even with population increases, poaching pressure has remained high in both India and Nepal. The species’ recovery is precarious without increased and accelerated support for conservation efforts throughout its range.