Indian rhinoceros

Rhinoceros unicornis

The Indian rhinoceros , also called the greater one-horned rhinoceros and great Indian rhinoceros, is a rhinoceros native to the Indian subcontinent. It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, as populations are fragmented and restricted to less than 20,000 km2 . Moreover, the extent and quality of the rhino's most important habitat, alluvial grassland and riverine forest, is considered to be in decline due to human and livestock encroachment.

The Indian rhinoceros once ranged throughout the entire stretch of the Indo-Gangetic Plain, but excessive hunting and agricultural development reduced their range drastically to 11 sites in northern India and southern Nepal. In the early 1990s, between 1,870 to 1,895 rhinos were estimated to have been alive. In 2015, a total of 3,555 Indian rhinoceros are estimated to live in the wild.
The one that smiled! Unlike other tiger reserves I have been to, you are allowed to disembark from the your safari vehicle at set points to look out over the landscape in the observation towers. It was at one of these stops in the Central range that I had a close encounter with a rhino.  My companions went up the observation tower, but I stayed by the jeep, looking out over the tall grass to the receding water line of the pools and distant images of rhinos and deer. Suddenly a 2000 plus kilogramme rhino appeared out of the elephant grass about 10 metres in front of me. I grabbed my camera and crouched in front of the jeep as it sauntered towards me. It kept coming, closer and closer until it was about 5 metres from me. I was taking photographs the whole time, but I must admit those shots towards the end where getting blurry as my hands shook. As it got too close for comfort I made a tactical retreat into the jeep, observing it though the passenger window. It looked at me, and I looked back. It appeared to smile at me then turned away back into the grass. Adrenaline pumping and, grinning from ear-to-ear, I counted my lucky stars that it did not charge. 2014,5D mkIII,Assam,India,Indian rhinoceros,Kaziranga Tiger Reserve,Rhinoceros unicornis,Tiger Reserve,Wildlife,asia,unidentified,wildlife

Appearance

The Indian rhinoceros has a thick grey-brown skin with pinkish skin folds and a black horn. Its upper legs and shoulders are covered in wart-like bumps. It has very little body hair, aside from eyelashes, ear fringes and tail brush. Males have huge neck folds. Its skull is heavy with a basal length above 60 cm and an occiput above 19 cm . Its nasal horn is slightly back-curved with a base of about 18.5 cm by 12 cm that rapidly narrows until a smooth, even stem part begins about 55 mm above base. In captive animals, the horn is frequently worn down to a thick knob.

The rhino's single horn is present in both males and females, but not on newborn young. The black horn is pure keratin, like human fingernails, and starts to show after about six years. In most adults, the horn reaches a length of about 25 cm , but has been recorded up to 36 cm in length and weight 3.051 kg .

Among terrestrial land mammals native to Asia, the Indian rhinoceros is second in size only to the Asian elephant. It is also the second-largest living rhinoceros, behind only the white rhinoceros. Males have a head and body length of 368–380 cm with a shoulder height of 170–186 cm , while females have a head and body length of 310–340 cm and a shoulder height of 148–173 cm . The male, averaging about 2,200 kg is heavier than the female, at an average of about 1,600 kg .

The rich presence of blood vessels underneath the tissues in folds gives it the pinkish colour. The folds in the skin increase the surface area and help in regulating the body temperature. The thick skin does not protect against bloodsucking ''Tabanus'' flies, leeches and ticks.

The largest sized specimens range up to 4,000 kg .
The indian unicorn! :) When you mention wildlife in India, people automatically think of tigers, leopards, elephants and monkeys, but very few people associate India with rhinoceroses. The Indian rhino, also known as the greater one-horned rhino, is found in the riverine grasslands at the foot of the Himalayas in north India and Nepal.  There are approximately 3000 rhinos left in the wild, 2000 of which are found in Assam, one of India’s most north-easterly states, and most of these specifically in Kaziranga national park and tiger reserve. Geotagged,India,Indian rhinoceros,Rhinoceros unicornis,Spring,adhocphotographer,assam,john rowell,kaziranga

Naming

The modern scientific designation ''Rhinoceros unicornis'' is adopted from the Greek: ρινό- and -κερος and Latin: "uni-" meaning single and "-cornis" meaning horn.

''Rhinoceros unicornis'' was the type species for the rhinoceros family, first described by Carl Linnaeus in 1758.

The one-horned rhinoceros is monotypic. Several specimens were described since the end of the 18th century under different scientific names, which are all considered synonyms of ''Rhinoceros unicornis'' today:
⤷ ''R. indicus'' by Cuvier, 1817
⤷ ''R. asiaticus'' by Blumenbach, 1830
⤷ ''R. stenocephalus'' by Gray, 1867
⤷ ''R. jamrachi'' by Sclatter, 1876
⤷ ''R. bengalensis'' by Kourist, 1970
Indian Rhino in Chitwan Nepal Another of my Chitwan rhinos. Chitwan is a great place to see these, and yes, jeep or walking tours are fine. The elephant safaris are thankfully being phased out. Chitwan National Park,Fall,Geotagged,Indian rhinoceros,Nepal,Rhinoceros unicornis

Distribution

One-horned rhinos once ranged across the entire northern part of the Indian Subcontinent, along the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra River basins, from Pakistan to the Indian-Burmese border, including Bangladesh and the southern parts of Nepal and Bhutan. They may have also occurred in Myanmar, southern China and Indochina. They inhabit the alluvial plain grasslands of the Terai and the Brahmaputra basin. As a result of habitat destruction and climatic changes their range has gradually been reduced so that by the 19th century, they only survived in the Terai grasslands of southern Nepal, northern Uttar Pradesh, northern Bihar, northern Bengal, and in the Brahmaputra Valley of Assam.

The species was present in northern Bihar and Oudh at least until 1770 as indicated in maps produced by Colonel Gentil. On the former abundance of the species, Thomas C. Jerdon wrote in 1867:
This huge rhinoceros is found in the Terai at the foot of the Himalayas, from Bhotan to Nepal. It is more common in the eastern portion of the Terai than the west, and is most abundant in Assam and the Bhotan Dooars. I have heard from sportsmen of its occurrence as far west as Rohilcund, but it is certainly rare there now, and indeed along the greater part of the Nepal Terai; ... Jelpigoree, a small military station near the Teesta River, was a favourite locality whence to hunt the Rhinoceros and it was from that station Captain Fortescue ... got his skulls, which were ... the first that Mr. Blyth had seen of this species, ...


Today, their range has further shrunk to a few pockets in southern Nepal, northern Bengal, and the Brahmaputra Valley. In the 1980s, rhinos were frequently seen in the narrow plain area of Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan. Today, they are restricted to habitats surrounded by human-dominated landscapes, so that they often occur in adjacent cultivated areas, pastures, and secondary forests.

Rhinos are regionally extinct in Pakistan.In 2006, the total population was estimated to be 2,575 individuals, of which 2,200 lived in Indian protected areas:
⤷  in Kaziranga National Park: 1,855 — increased from 366 in 1966; 2,048 rhinos were estimated in 2009.
⤷  in Jaldapara National Park: 108 — increased from 84 in 2002
⤷  in Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary: 81 — increased from 54 in 1987
⤷  in Orang National Park: 68 — increased from 35 in 1972
⤷  in Gorumara: 27 — increased from 22 in 2002
⤷  in Dudhwa National Park: 21
⤷  in Manas National Park: 19
⤷  in Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary: 2
In 2000, about 2,000 rhinos were estimated in Assam. Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary shelters the highest density of Indian rhinos in the world — with 84 individuals in 2009 in an area of 38.80 km2 .
By 2014, the population in Assam increased to 2,544 rhinos, an increase by 27% since 2006, although more than 150 individuals were killed by poachers during these years.

The population in Nepal increased by 111 individuals from 2011 to 2015, increasing by 21%. The latest rhino count was conducted from 11 April to 2 May 2015 and revealed 645 individuals living in Parsa Wildlife Reserve, Chitwan National Park, Bardia National Park, Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve and respective buffer zones in the Terai Arc Landscape.

In Pakistan's Lal Suhanra National Park, two rhinos from Nepal were introduced in 1983 but have not bred so far.
One-horned One of the 5 rhino species still around. Population is divided into India and Nepal. Conservation efforts helped the growth of the population but still no more than a couple of thousand rhinos in the wild. Geotagged,India,Indian rhinoceros,Kaziranga,Rhinoceros unicornis

Status

''Rhinoceros unicornis'' has been listed in CITES Appendix I since 1975. The Indian and Nepalese governments have taken major steps towards Indian rhinoceros conservation, especially with the help of the World Wide Fund for Nature and other non-governmental organizations. In the early 1980s, a rhino translocation scheme was initiated. The first pair of rhinos was reintroduced from Nepal's Terai to Pakistan's Lal Suhanra National Park in Punjab in 1982.
Indian rhinoceros closeup, Nepal A close encounter with the Indian Rhinoceros in Chitwan National Park, Nepal during a jeep safari. Chitwan National Park,Fall,Geotagged,Indian rhinoceros,Nepal,Rhinoceros unicornis

Behavior

Rhinos are mostly solitary creatures, with the exception of mothers and calves and breeding pairs, although they sometimes congregate at bathing areas. They have home ranges, those of males being usually 2 to 8 km2 and overlapping each other. Dominant males tolerate males passing through their territories except when they are in mating season, when dangerous fights break out. They are active at night and early morning. They spend the middle of the day wallowing in lakes, rivers, ponds, and puddles to cool down. They are very good swimmers. Over 10 distinct vocalisations have been recorded.

Indian rhinos bathe regularly. The folds in their skin trap water and hold it even when they come back on land.

Indian rhinos have few natural enemies, except for tigers, which sometimes kill unguarded calves, but adult rhinos are less vulnerable due to their size. Mynahs and egrets both eat invertebrates from the rhino's skin and around its feet. ''Tabanus'' flies, a type of horse-fly, are known to bite rhinos. The rhinos are also vulnerable to diseases spread by parasites such as leeches, ticks, and nematodes. Anthrax and the blood-disease septicemia are known to occur.
There has been a recent case reported in March 2017 of a group of four tigers consisting of an adult male, female and two cubs killing a 20 year old male rhino in the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve.
They can run at speeds of up to 55 km/h for short periods and are excellent swimmers. They have excellent senses of hearing and smell, but relatively poor eyesight.The Indian rhinoceros forms a variety of social groupings. Adult males are generally solitary, except for mating and fighting. Adult females are largely solitary when they are without calves. Mothers will stay close to their calves for up to four years after their birth, sometimes allowing an older calf to continue to accompany her once a newborn calf arrives. Subadult males and females form consistent groupings, as well. Groups of two or three young males will often form on the edge of the home ranges of dominant males, presumably for protection in numbers. Young females are slightly less social than the males. Indian rhinos also form short-term groupings, particularly at forest wallows during the monsoon season and in grasslands during March and April. Groups of up to 10 rhinos may gather in wallows—typically a dominant male with females and calves, but no subadult males.

The Indian rhinoceros makes a wide variety of vocalisations. At least 10 distinct vocalisations have been identified: snorting, honking, bleating, roaring, squeak-panting, moo-grunting, shrieking, groaning, rumbling and humphing. In addition to noises, the rhino uses olfactory communication. Adult males urinate backwards, as far as 3–4 m behind them, often in response to being disturbed by observers. Like all rhinos, the Indian rhinoceros often defecates near other large dung piles. The Indian rhino has pedal scent glands which are used to mark their presence at these rhino latrines. Males have been observed walking with their heads to the ground as if sniffing, presumably following the scent of females.

In aggregations, Indian rhinos are often friendly. They will often greet each other by waving or bobbing their heads, mounting flanks, nuzzling noses, or licking. Rhinos will playfully spar, run around, and play with twigs in their mouths. Adult males are the primary instigators in fights. Fights between dominant males are the most common cause of rhino mortality, and males are also very aggressive toward females during courtship. Males will chase females over long distances and even attack them face-to-face. Unlike African rhinos, the Indian rhino fights with its incisors, rather than its horns.
WHOS CIVILISED NOT LONG AGO THERE WERE LESS THAN 200 OF THESE MAGNIFICENT ANIMALS ,THERE ARE NOW APPROX 2,600,THANKS TO THE EUROPEAN ENDANGERED SPECIES BREEDING PROGRAMME. Geotagged,Indian rhinoceros,Rhinoceros unicornis,United Kingdom

Habitat

One-horned rhinos once ranged across the entire northern part of the Indian Subcontinent, along the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra River basins, from Pakistan to the Indian-Burmese border, including Bangladesh and the southern parts of Nepal and Bhutan. They may have also occurred in Myanmar, southern China and Indochina. They inhabit the alluvial plain grasslands of the Terai and the Brahmaputra basin. As a result of habitat destruction and climatic changes their range has gradually been reduced so that by the 19th century, they only survived in the Terai grasslands of southern Nepal, northern Uttar Pradesh, northern Bihar, northern Bengal, and in the Brahmaputra Valley of Assam.

The species was present in northern Bihar and Oudh at least until 1770 as indicated in maps produced by Colonel Gentil. On the former abundance of the species, Thomas C. Jerdon wrote in 1867:
This huge rhinoceros is found in the Terai at the foot of the Himalayas, from Bhotan to Nepal. It is more common in the eastern portion of the Terai than the west, and is most abundant in Assam and the Bhotan Dooars. I have heard from sportsmen of its occurrence as far west as Rohilcund, but it is certainly rare there now, and indeed along the greater part of the Nepal Terai; ... Jelpigoree, a small military station near the Teesta River, was a favourite locality whence to hunt the Rhinoceros and it was from that station Captain Fortescue ... got his skulls, which were ... the first that Mr. Blyth had seen of this species, ...


Today, their range has further shrunk to a few pockets in southern Nepal, northern Bengal, and the Brahmaputra Valley. In the 1980s, rhinos were frequently seen in the narrow plain area of Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan. Today, they are restricted to habitats surrounded by human-dominated landscapes, so that they often occur in adjacent cultivated areas, pastures, and secondary forests.

Rhinos are regionally extinct in Pakistan.Rhinos are mostly solitary creatures, with the exception of mothers and calves and breeding pairs, although they sometimes congregate at bathing areas. They have home ranges, those of males being usually 2 to 8 km2 and overlapping each other. Dominant males tolerate males passing through their territories except when they are in mating season, when dangerous fights break out. They are active at night and early morning. They spend the middle of the day wallowing in lakes, rivers, ponds, and puddles to cool down. They are very good swimmers. Over 10 distinct vocalisations have been recorded.

Indian rhinos bathe regularly. The folds in their skin trap water and hold it even when they come back on land.

Indian rhinos have few natural enemies, except for tigers, which sometimes kill unguarded calves, but adult rhinos are less vulnerable due to their size. Mynahs and egrets both eat invertebrates from the rhino's skin and around its feet. ''Tabanus'' flies, a type of horse-fly, are known to bite rhinos. The rhinos are also vulnerable to diseases spread by parasites such as leeches, ticks, and nematodes. Anthrax and the blood-disease septicemia are known to occur.
There has been a recent case reported in March 2017 of a group of four tigers consisting of an adult male, female and two cubs killing a 20 year old male rhino in the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve.
They can run at speeds of up to 55 km/h for short periods and are excellent swimmers. They have excellent senses of hearing and smell, but relatively poor eyesight.
Portrait of a living tank ! The Indian One-Horned Rhinoceros is a Vulnerable species and in India, the Jaldapara National Park is one of those last remaining homes of this beautiful mammal. I was on an Elephant back safari and our elephant had went extremely close to the Rhinoceros. With me I just had a telephoto prime lens and hence, could only take a close portrait of the rhino.  Contest,Fall,Geotagged,India,JungleDragon January 2015 photo contest,Mammals,One-Horned Rhinoceros,Rhinoceros,Wildlife

Reproduction

Captive males breed at five years of age, but wild males attain dominance much later when they are larger. In one five-year field study, only one rhino estimated to be younger than 15 years mated successfully. Captive females breed as young as four years of age, but in the wild, they usually start breeding only when six years old, which likely indicates they need to be large enough to avoid being killed by aggressive males. Their gestation period is around 15.7 months, and birth interval ranges from 34–51 months.

In captivity, four rhinos are known to have lived over 40 years, the oldest living to be 47.
One Horned ...... One Horned rhinoceros - Kaziranga Geotagged,India,Indian rhinoceros,Rhinoceros unicornis

Food

Indian rhinoceros are grazers. Their diets consist almost entirely of grasses, but they also eat leaves, branches of shrubs and trees, fruits, and submerged and floating aquatic plants.
They feed in the mornings and evenings. They use their prehensile lips to grasp grass stems, bend the stem down, bite off the top, and then eat the grass. They tackle very tall grasses or saplings by walking over the plant, with legs on both sides and using the weight of their bodies to push the end of the plant down to the level of the mouth. Mothers also use this technique to make food edible for their calves. They drink for a minute or two at a time, often imbibing water filled with rhinoceros urine.
Rhino A rhino has passed in Chitwan NP, Nepal.  Geotagged,Indian rhinoceros,Nepal,Rhinoceros unicornis,Spring

Predators

Sport hunting became common in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Indian rhinos were hunted relentlessly and persistently. Reports from the middle of the 19th century claim that some British military officers in Assam individually shot more than 200 rhinos. By 1908, the population in Kaziranga had decreased to around 12 individuals. In the early 1900s, the species had declined to near extinction.

Poaching for rhinoceros horn became the single most important reason for the decline of the Indian rhino after conservation measures were put in place from the beginning of the 20th century, when legal hunting ended. From 1980 to 1993, 692 rhinos were poached in India. In India's Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary, 41 rhinos were killed in 1983, virtually the entire population of the sanctuary. By the mid-1990s, poaching had rendered the species extinct there.

In 1950, Chitwan’s forest and grasslands extended over more than 2,600 km2 and were home to about 800 rhinos. When poor farmers from the mid-hills moved to the Chitwan Valley in search of arable land, the area was subsequently opened for settlement, and poaching of wildlife became rampant. The Chitwan population has repeatedly been jeopardized by poaching; in 2002 alone, poachers killed 37 animals to saw off and sell their valuable horns.

Six methods of killing rhinos have been recorded:
⤷  Shooting is by far the most common method used; rhino horn traders hire sharpshooters and often supply them with rifles and ammunition.
⤷  Trapping in a pit depends largely on the terrain and availability of grass to cover it; pits are dug out in such a way that a fallen animal has little room to manoeuvre with its head slightly above the pit, so that it is easy to saw off the horn.
⤷  Electrocution is used where high voltage powerlines pass through or near a protected area, to which poachers hook a long, insulated rod connected to a wire, which is suspended above a rhino path.
⤷  Poisoning by smearing zinc phosphide rat poison or pesticides on salt licks frequently used by rhinos is sometimes used.
⤷  Spearing has only been recorded in Chitwan National Park.
⤷  A noose, which cuts through the rhino's skin, kills it by strangulation.

Poaching, mainly for the use of the horn in traditional Chinese medicine, has remained a constant and has led to decreases in several important populations. Apart from this, serious declines in quality of habitat have occurred in some areas, due to:
⤷  severe invasion by alien plants into grasslands affecting some populations;
⤷  demonstrated reductions in the extent of grasslands and wetland habitats due to woodland encroachment and silting up of beels;
⤷  grazing by domestic livestock.
The species is inherently at risk because over 70% of its population occurs at a single site, Kaziranga National Park. Any catastrophic event such as disease, civil disorder, poaching, or habitat loss would have a devastating impact on the Indian rhino's status. However, small population of rhinos may be prone to inbreeding depression.
Thoughts for tomorrow Rhinoceros unicornis, a close encounter.

EXIF: Nikon F70 | Nikkor 35-105mm @105mm | Expired Fuji 200 Color Film
http://vimeo.com/34382122 Chitwan National Park,Geotagged,Indian rhinoceros,Nepal,Rhinoceros unicornis,Winter

Evolution

Ancestral rhinoceroses first diverged from other perissodactyls in the Early Eocene. Mitochondrial DNA comparison suggests the ancestors of modern rhinos split from the ancestors of Equidae around 50 million years ago. The extant family, the Rhinocerotidae, first appeared in the Late Eocene in Eurasia, and the ancestors of the extant rhino species dispersed from Asia beginning in the Miocene.

Fossils of ''R. unicornis'' appear in the Middle Pleistocene. In the Pleistocene, the genus ''Rhinoceros'' ranged throughout South and Southeast Asia, with specimens located on Sri Lanka. Into the Holocene, some rhinoceros lived as far west as Gujarat and Pakistan until as recently as 3,200 years ago.

The Indian and Javan rhinoceroses, the only members of the genus ''Rhinoceros'', first appear in the fossil record in Asia around 1.6 million–3.3 million years ago. Molecular estimates, however, suggest the species may have diverged much earlier, around 11.7 million years ago. Although belonging to the type genus, the Indian and Javan rhinoceroses are not believed to be closely related to other rhino species. Different studies have hypothesized that they may be closely related to the extinct ''Gaindatherium'' or ''Punjabitherium''. A detailed cladistic analysis of the Rhinocerotidae placed ''Rhinoceros'' and the extinct ''Punjabitherium'' in a clade with ''Dicerorhinus'', the Sumatran rhinoceros. Other studies have suggested the Sumatran rhinoceros is more closely related to the two African species. The Sumatran rhino may have diverged from the other Asian rhinos as long as 15 million years ago.
one-horned-rhino  Indian rhinoceros,Rhinoceros unicornis,Rhinocerotidae

Cultural

The Rhinoceros
Artist
Albrecht DürerYear
1515Type
woodcutDimensions
24.8 cm × 31.7 cm 
The Indian rhinoceros was the first rhino widely known outside its range. The first rhinoceros to reach Europe in modern times arrived in Lisbon on May 20, 1515. King Manuel I of Portugal planned to send the rhinoceros to Pope Leo X, but the rhino perished in a shipwreck. Before dying, the rhino had been sketched by an unknown artist.

The German artist Albrecht Dürer saw the sketches and descriptions and carved a woodcut of the rhino, known ever after as'' Dürer's Rhinoceros''. Though the drawing had some anatomical inaccuracies , his sketch became the enduring image of a rhinoceros in western culture for centuries.

The British public had their first chance to view a rhinoceros in 1683; it unknowingly caused a political row when the notorious Judge Jeffreys, in one of his lighter moments, spread a rumour that his chief rival, Lord Guildford, had been seen riding on it.

A steatite seal, popularly known as Pashupati Seal was discovered at the Mohenjo-daro archaeological site in 1928-29 of the Indus Valley Civilization. It has a human figure at the center seated on a platform and the human figure is surrounded by four wild animals: an elephant and a tiger to its one side, and a water buffalo and a rhinoceros on the other.

Rhinoceros is Vahana of Hindu Goddess Dhavdi. There is a temple dedicated to Maa Dhavdi in Dhrangadhra, Gujarat.

Many the mythological stories e.g. a boy named Rishyasringa with the horns of a deer, Karkadann, unicorn etc. may be inspired by Indian Rhinoceros.

The Assam state of India uses the one-horned rhino as its official state animal. It is also the organizational logo for Assam Oil Company Ltd.

References:

Some text fragments are auto parsed from Wikipedia.

Taxonomy
KingdomAnimalia
DivisionChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderPerissodactyla
FamilyRhinocerotidae
GenusRhinoceros
SpeciesR. unicornis