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Indian Rhinoceros

Last updated date: 28th Feb 2024
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All You Need to Know about the Endangered Indian Rhino

The bigger one-horned rhino (sometimes known as the Indian rhino) is the largest rhinoceros. Rhino numbers have dropped over the northern Indian subcontinent as they have been hunted down for their horn or exterminated as agricultural pests. This brought the species dangerously near to extinction, and by the turn of the century, there were only about 200 wild greater one-horned rhinos left.

The great one-horned rhino's recovery is one of Asia's biggest conservation success stories. The greater one-horned rhino has been brought back from the verge of extinction, thanks to stringent preservation and management by Indian, Nepalese wildlife authorities besides World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). In northeastern India and Nepal's Terai plains, rhino numbers have grown to over 3,700 now.

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Indian Rhino Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia

  • Subkingdom: Bilateria

  • Phylum:  Chordata

  • Subphylum: Vertebrata

  • Class: Mammalia

  • Subclass: Theria

  • Order: Perissodactyla

  • Family: Rhinocerotidae 

  • Genus: Rhinoceros Linnaeus

  • Species: Rhinoceros unicornis Linnaeus (Indian One-horned Rhinoceros)

Scientific Name And Significance

S. Name of the great Indian rhinoceros: Rhinoceros unicornis

Rhinoceros unicornis is derived from the Greek words "rhino" and "ceros," which mean "nose" and "horn," respectively, while "unicornis" is derived from the Latin words "uni," which means "one," and "cornis," which means "horn."

Indian Rhino Habitat

Flood plains, which are places near rivers that flood during the rainy season, are home to many Indian rhinos. These locations have rich soil that supports a lot of flora, which is ideal for the grass-eating rhinoceros. Furthermore, these rhinos can be found in woodlands and marshes along flood plains, as well as other grassland habitats.

Rhinos sometimes live in human-made fields or forests since they struggle to survive in a section of the world where they are surrounded by humans. Except for a mother and her kid, they are a solitary species that lives alone for the most part.

Geographical Regions

As the name says, the Indian rhinoceros found in India. The natural habitat of rhinoceros in India is located in northern India, close to the Himalayan mountain range. The Indian rhino can also be found in southern Nepal, near the Himalayan border with India, along the Himalayan foothills. This species used to have a considerably larger range, but as their numbers have declined, they have become more confined, and can now only be found near the India-Nepal border.

Rhinos are now present in regions of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, and Assam in India. According to WWF-India data from 2012, Assam was home to more than 91 percent of Indian rhinos. Rhinos are mostly found in Kaziranga national park in Assam, with a few in the Pobitora wildlife sanctuary. In a 2015 rhino population in India survey by Kaziranga park, authorities revealed there were 2,401 rhinos within the park. Kaziranga is home to more than 91 percent of Assam's rhinos — and more than 80 percent of India's total.

Physical Features

A single black horn around 8 - 25 inches long and a grey-brown hide with skin wrinkles that gives it an armour-plated look help to identify the bigger one-horned rhino. The neck folds of male Indian rhinos grow enormously.

The top legs and shoulders of Indian rhinos are covered in wart-like lumps. The Indian rhino's mouth resembles a cross between broad-lipped and hook-lipped rhinos. It has a little prehensile lip, so they can use it to hold items, despite its broadness. This allows them to grip grass and pull it up, as well as pluck leaves from shrubs and trees.

The Indian Rhino has only one horn, which is composed entirely of keratin and appears one year after birth. The solitary horn of an Indian rhinoceros measures between 20 and 101 centimetres in length. They are around the same size as white rhinoceroses.

The eyesight of Indian rhinos, like other rhino species, is poor. Their acute hearing and sense of smell, on the other hand, compensate for this. The Indian rhinoceros reaches a height of 6 feet and weighs between 4000 and 6000 pounds. The Indian rhinoceros has a lifespan of 35 to 45 years. These rhinos are excellent swimmers and can run at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour for short periods of time on land.

  • Size

Height: 5.75 – 6.5 feet (1.75 – 2.0 m) tall at shoulder

Weight: 1,800 – 2,700 kg

Length: 10- 12.5 feet (3.0 – 3.8 m) length of head and body

  • Horn Size

Greater one-horned rhinos have a single horn that ranges in length from 8 to 24 inches (20 to 61 cm).

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Behaviour and Ecology

  • Communication

These rhinos, like all rhinos, have excellent hearing and a good sense of smell. They may be able to locate one another by following the scent trail that each massive animal leaves in the landscape. When aroused, an Indian rhino can move quite swiftly. The speed of their charges has been measured at 30 miles per hour. Despite their size, they are agile and can quickly jump or change direction.

  • Reproduction

Breeding takes place all year long. Only dominant bulls mate, and it is thought that they use scent to determine the reproductive status of females. Males chase females and fights frequently occur during courtship.

Male Indian rhinos can reproduce at the age of nine, while female Indian rhinos reach sexual maturity at the age of five and give birth to their first calves between the ages of six and eight. When the female is in season, she whistles to let males know she is ready to mate. The pregnancy lasts roughly 16 months.

At around 3-year intervals, a single calf is born. The baby rhinos stay with their mothers for several years because their mothers are attentive and protective. The female will chase away her previous calf a week before the next birth. Males roam alone and are territorial, whilst females and their young travel together. The average life expectancy is around 40 years.

  • Food Habits

They graze primarily, eating grasses, leaves, shrub and tree branches, and aquatic vegetation. To beat the summer heat, rhinos eat during the cooler hours of the day and cool off in surrounding rivers and mud holes during the hotter hours. They eat the aquatic vegetation that they come across from time to time. Rhinos dip their entire heads in the water and pull the plant apart at the roots when consuming aquatic plants. To avoid the heat of the day, foraging happens during the night, the early morning, or late afternoon. Rhinoceros unicornis enjoys mineral licks and drinks every day.

Did You Know These Interesting Great Indian Rhinoceros Facts?

  • One remarkable feature of Indian rhinoceros is that they are excellent swimmers. They are, in fact, the finest swimmers among all rhino species.

  • They can also run at speeds of up to 34 miles per hour, albeit this is not a speed they can maintain for long.

  • Another intriguing feature is that males do not have clear territorial boundaries. They have a general range that they stick to, but it frequently overlaps with other males' ranges.

  • Parasites that hide in the creases of the Indian rhinoceros' skin are eaten by egrets and mynas (birds that eat ticks).


The huge horn that has made these rhinos famous has also been their undoing. Many animals have been slaughtered for this hard, hair-like growth, which is treasured in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore for medicinal purposes. The horn is also used as an ornate dagger handle in North Africa and the Middle East.


In this article on Indian rhinoceros, you got to learn that the greater one-horned rhino, sometimes known as the Indian rhino, is a conservation success story. The greater one-horned, or Indian rhino has rebounded from fewer than 100 individuals to more than 3,600 today, thanks to stringent protection by government officials in India and Nepal. However, it is still a threatened species, with poaching for its horn a constant threat.

This rhino lives in protected regions in India and Nepal, which are bordered by large human populations. It is critical to ensure that communities living near rhino reserves are sympathetic to the rhinos and benefit from their presence.

IRF and our Indian Rhino Vision 2020 partners collaborated to develop a new rhino population in Assam's Manas National Park starting in 2005. Since 2012, 21 animals have been born in the park, and two more rhinos were translocated from Kaziranga NP to Manas in February 2020, bringing the total population to 41 animals and expanding.

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Indian Rhinoceros Extinct in India

The IUCN Red List classifies greater one-horned rhinoceroses as vulnerable, with just 3600 remaining in the wild. India and Nepal have strengthened their anti-poaching efforts by establishing protected parks and reserves, which has aided the rhino population in India’s growth.

Rhinoceroses have traditionally been slain for their horns, which are thought to have therapeutic value by some Asian societies. However, there is no proof that rhino horns, which are mostly formed of keratin (the same material as our hair and fingernails), have any medical value. According to a May 2015 storey in The Washington Times, a rhino horn might cost as much as $60,000 per pound in the illicit market in 2015, primarily in China and Vietnam.

According to Tito Joseph, programme manager of the anti-poaching programme at the Wildlife Protection Society of India, rhino poaching peaked in India in 2013, when 41 of the herbivores were killed. Later it declined, owing to better policing and protection by the Assam government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).


Rhinoceros of India The Greater One-horned Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) is another name for the Indian Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis). The Indian rhino originally wandered from Pakistan to Burma, and it is possible that it even roamed in China. The Indian rhinoceros is the largest of Asia's three rhino species, as well as the largest of all rhino species, along with the African white rhino. To summarise, they are herbivores who eat grass, leaves, fruit, branches, aquatic plants, and cultivated crops, among other things. Short reedy grasses are preferred by rhinos over tall reedy grasses. They drink on a daily basis and like mineral licks.

FAQs on Indian Rhinoceros

1. What is the Current Conservation Status of Indian Rhinoceros?

Ans: Due to the high economic value of the horn, hunting activities pose a serious threat to Rhinoceros unicornis. The IUCN and USDI have identified this species as endangered, and it is included in CITES Appendix 1. Projects to recover populations in locations where they have been extirpated are still underway. Such programmes will only be successful if the primary cause of rhino extinction — human overhunting — can be addressed. Controlling poaching and the illegal wildlife trade will aid the Indian rhino's comeback. In Nepal, each rhino population is guarded by 700 armed troops and rangers, or about two guards per rhino. Aside from overhunting, agricultural conversion of alluvial plain habitat has resulted in a reduction in appropriate rhino habitat.

2. How Many Indian Rhinoceros are Left in India?

Ans: Its 'armour plating' and one horn are its most distinguishing features. There are roughly 3,600 Indian Rhinos left in the wild, compared to less than 200 in the early twentieth century.

3. Why are Indian Rhinoceros Killed?

Ans:  Rhinos are hunted for their horns and slaughtered. Asia has the highest demand for rhino horn, which is utilised in artistic sculptures and traditional medicine.

The greatest threat to the larger one-horned rhino is poaching for the illegal trade in rhino horn. The horn is employed in traditional Asian medicine for a range of diseases, including epilepsy, fevers, impotency, and cancer, despite the lack of scientific proof of its medicinal effectiveness. Despite international rhino horn trade regulations and bans, extensive illegal commerce continues throughout Asia.

4. Is Rhino Horn Made of Bone?

Ans: Rhino horns are formed of keratin, the same substance that makes up your hair and fingernails. The horn of a rhinoceros is not linked to its skull. It's essentially a compacted clump of hairs that, like our own hair and nails, continues to develop throughout the animal's life.

5. How is WWF Helping to Protect the Indian Rhinoceros from the Hands of Poachers and Extinction?

Ans: WWF-India is striving to increase community participation in rhino-bearing areas through a variety of activities that raise rhino conservation knowledge, promote income-generation options for local people, and reduce losses caused by human-wildlife interactions.

  • Educating and Collaborating with Local Communities

Rhinos live in protected regions in India and Nepal, which are surrounded by dense human populations. It is critical to ensure that communities living near rhino sanctuaries are educated and sympathetic to rhinos and benefit from their presence.

  • Landscape Restoration

Rhino populations in India are growing, and they require more area to live and procreate. To raise rhino numbers and improve connectivity across protected areas, WWF and partners are restoring rhino habitat in Nepal. The population of larger one-horned rhinos in Chitwan National Park is the world's second-largest, after that of India's Kaziranga National Park. WWF strives to maintain habitat corridors in Kaziranga National Park so that rhinos have access to higher places outside of the park during annual floods.

  • Protection and Monitoring

At key sites such as Kaziranga National Park and the Pobitora and Laokhowa-Burachapori Wildlife Sanctuaries, WWF helps to strengthen security measures and provides critical support for anti-poaching efforts. We also invest in rhino monitoring to collect data and track progress toward attaining rhino conservation targets, assess reproductive health and population growth rates, and make the best decisions possible to keep rhino populations growing.

  • Implement Strict Law Enforcement

WWF collaborates with national governments to improve wildlife laws and enforcement, as well as to fund anti-poaching equipment and activities in protected areas. In 2006, in response to an upsurge in poaching in Nepal, WWF expanded the number of security posts from eight to twenty. We also enlisted the help of ex-army and police officers to patrol dangerous locations outside of the secured zones. Individual rhinos were guarded by local youngsters throughout the night. The WWF passed on the information gathered by these allies to important government ministries, allowing them to intervene where necessary. Since 2011, Nepal's sustained efforts to conserve rhinos have resulted in the country experiencing four periods of zero rhino poaching, each lasting 365 days.