Rhinos are critically endangered animals that look like they haven’t changed much since prehistoric times (though of course they tended to be a lot woollier back then!). Although poached nearly to extinction, conservation efforts and habitat protection are starting to make a small difference to the fate of these magnificent animals. Let’s take a look at some cool facts about them.
1. There is both a black and a white African rhinoceros but they are actually pretty much the same color. The black has a hooked, pointed lip while the white has a squared one.
2. Rhinos can grow to over 6 feet tall and more than 11 feet in length.
3. The horns are made of keratin (a hairlike substance). The longest known on a black rhino was 4 feet 9 inches long (they average about 20 inches in length on the black rhino).
4. The black rhino is smaller than the white rhino.
5. Rhinos make their own sun block by wallowing in mud and letting it dry. The dried mud also protects them from some blood sucking insects.
6. Rhinos are critically endangered due to poaching. Their horns are used to make ceremonial dagger handles in the Middle East (called jambiyas) and as an aphrodisiac in traditional Chinese medicine.
7. Black rhinos are very aggressive and will charge easily due to their poor eyesight.
8. Black rhinos fight each other and have the highest rate of death among mammals in fights among the same species. Fifty percent of males and 30% of females die from these intra-species fights.
9. Black rhinos run on their toes and can go as fast as 35 mph.
10. The black rhino browses on leaves, thorny bushes, fruit and leafy plants. The white rhino is a grazer who eats grass.
11. The black rhino can live up to five days without water.
12. Rhinos use an intricate system of breathing exhalations in addition to grunts and squawks for communication.
13. White rhinos can live up to 45 years old in the wild.
14. Mother rhinos are very nurturing. The young stay with them until they are approximately 3 years old.
15. Rhinos have lived on earth for 50 million years.
16. The rhino’s closest relatives are more likely to be horses than hippos because it is an ungulate.
17. The gestation period of black rhinos is 15 to 16 months.
18. The black rhino’s prehensile upper lip can not only pick a small leaf from a twig but can open gates and vehicle doors.
19. Rhino horns can grow back if cut or broken off.
20. The Swahili name for rhinos is ‘Faru’.
Further conservation efforts on behalf of these magnificent creatures need to be made as only the southern white rhino has shown any real increase in numbers. One of the most poignant facts relating to this is that in many national parks each rhino is assigned an armed guard who walks with it on its rambles. That is how few there are. It does give some lucky tourists a chance to touch them or feed them, but ideally we want far too many for armed guards to even be a possibility.