Two Sumatran rhino skulls collected by Rhino Protection Units (RPUs) in Way Kambas National Park, Indonesia. The one on the left has its nasal bone intact, suggesting that it died of natural causes. The skull on the right is missing its nasal bone, suggesting that the rhino had been killed by poachers and its horn…
Rhinos have seven vertebrae in their necks, the same number as all other mammals, from bats to giraffes.
In addition to their horns, rhinos have been killed through the ages for their meat and skin. In India, the skin of the greater one-horned rhino was historically fashioned into shields or cooked in hot oil and eaten as “cracklings”.
Rhinos are entirely vegetarian and their diets include some plants that contain potentially toxic chemicals. The candelabra euphorbia, for example, has a poisonous milky sap but can be an important source of water for Africa’s black rhino.
Except for the Sumatran rhino, which may have hair covering much of its body, the four other rhino species are essentially hairless except for the tips of their ears and tail.
Rhinos are sometimes de-horned to discourage poaching. This rhino from Zimbabwe has been tranquilized for the procedure, which causes the animal no ill effects and is not permanent. Its horn will regrow at the rate of several inches per year.
Why did the rhino cross the road? This greater one-horned rhino in India’s Kaziranga National Park may have wanted a clearer view of tourists in their vehicle.
Rhino art: a “butt painting” made by Stan, a popular white rhino at the North Carolina Zoo.