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Commonly shortened to "rhino", the rhinoceros is one of several perissodactyl mammals making up the Rhinocerotidae Family of South East Asia and Africa.

Although a part of the digestive tract (the colon and rectum) enables them to eat fibrous plant matter, the rhinoceros usually has a leafy diet.

They have either one horn on the nose (Indian) or two horns (African).

Sadly, these horns which are made up of a type of fibrous protein, are thought to have medicinal properties by some cultures and rhinoceros are often killed to obtain them. The horns are ground down to a fine powder which is consumed in the belief that it has curative properties.  

The horns are so highly sought after in places like Vietnam that their value in weight compares to that of gold and they are illegally sold for vast amounts of money.

Three of the five species in existence today are listed by the IUCN as being in danger of extinction. The two African (white rhinoceros and black rhinoceros) species are believed to date back roughly 14.2 million years ago to the middle Miocene period.  

What's the difference between black and white rhinos?

The black and white rhinoceros differ in the following ways:  

The white rhinoceros have broader mouths and flatter lips for grazing; their bodies are huge with big heads, short necks and wide chests; their weight can be over 3,500kg (7,700lbs) although the heaviest known weighing approximately 4,500kg (10,000lbs)!; they are 3.5-4.6 metres (11-15ft) long; and to the shoulder they measure 1.8-2 metres (5.9-.6.6ft) high; they have two horns, the one at the fore being the biggest, normally about 90cms (35in) but can grow up to 150cm (59in) in length.

There are two sub-divisions of white rhino: the Southern (Ceratotherium simum simum) and Northern (Ceratotherium simum cottoni).

In contrast, the black rhinoceros have more pointed mouths which they use to grip onto and remove the leaves and twigs they eat; they are not as large as the white rhino, their weight ranges from 850-1,600kg (1,870-3,530lbs), rarely to 1,800kg (4,000lbs); they are 1.50–1.75 metres (59–69 ins) high at the shoulder; and 3.5–3.9 metres (11–13ft) long; they have two horns, the one at the fore being the biggest, normally about 50cms but can grow up to 140cms.

Occasionally, they can grow a smaller third horn!

Black, Indian and Javan rhinos and the threats they face

The black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) was given this name to differentiate it from the white rhino. Conversely, their colours are really not that different.

The Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) have just one horn that measures from 20 to 100cms in length. These rhinos' habitats once included Pakistan, Burma and China.

Two-thirds of these Indian rhinoceros' lives are now restricted to the Kaziranga National Park in Golaghat, Assam, India.

Java has the most endangered of all rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus) in the world.

The Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) is the smallest and hairiest existing today. Sadly, unlawful hunting and loss of their homes, is putting the Sumatran rhinos' survival at risk.

WWF rhino adoptions

All the animal adoptions we promote on the site are really popular and WWF's adopt a rhino appeal is no different. Why not join the thousands who already are adopting a rhino with the WWF?

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