Within the past two years, Nepal’s Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros population has increased by 20 percent. This is very good news for a species poached for many reasons. The last time the rhino census was conducted in 2008, there were only 99 living Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros in Nepal. Now, the census shows that there are 534 living in the Nepal region. Of that total, 503 rhinos were found in Chitwan National Park, 24 in Bardia National Park, and 7 in Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve. The population numbers are a promising increase from the dismal and alarming population numbers reported in 2008.
The positive result of the National Rhino Census 2011, is an indication of the successful conservation efforts among the Government of Nepal in partnership with various conservation groups. It is a prime example of many people and communities of Napal coming together for the conservation of the Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros. Based on the encouraging results, their next goal is to create a thriving rhino population in the Terai Arc Landscape of Napal.
Today, rhinos are threatened by habitat loss and poaching. It is increasingly rare to see a rhino outside of a national park, reserve, or zoo. The greatest threat to the rhino is the worldwide demand for its horn. Which is commonly used in traditional Asian medicine for treating a variety of ailments. The rhino horn is banned under the international trade law of CITES or Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora. Habitat loss is a large concern for the rhino, especially in south-east Asia and India, as forests are being destroyed and human populations are on the rise.
In size, the One-Horned Rhinoceros is equal to the African White Rhino; together they are the largest of all rhino species. A fully grown male is larger than a female and weighs in anywhere between 4,900 to 6,600 pounds. Which makes the One-Horned Rhinoceros the fourth largest land animal on the planet. Its single horn is often used for self-defense, guiding their young, digging, and attracting mates. The horn can grow anywhere between 9.8 to 22.5 inches in length.
Rhinos are mostly solitary creatures, with the exception of mothers, calves, and breeding pairs. However, rhinos can be commonly found in groups among bathing areas. Rhinos are mostly active at night and in the early morning. They spend most of their afternoons in lakes, rivers, ponds, and puddles to beat the heat. To the surprise of many, the rhino is actually quite a good swimmer.
Rhinos have few natural enemies in the wild due to their massive size. Their diet mostly consists of entirely grasses, but they have been known to eat leaves, shrub branches, fruits, and submerged or floating aquatic plants. They have an excellent sense of hearing and smell, but relatively poor eyesight. A common misconception among humans is that the rhino is a rather slow land animal. Rhinos can run up to speeds of 34 miles per hour for short periods of time.
The social life of the rhinoceros comes in a variety of social groupings. Males are often found solitary on their home range, except when mating or fighting. Females are often solitary unless they have a calve with them. Mothers will often stay close to their calve for up to four years after birth, or until a newborn calf arrives. Sub-adult males can often be found in groups of two or three among the home range of a dominant male. Young females are often solitary in nature. Rhinos have a wide range and variety of vocalizations too. The ten distinct vocalizations of rhinos are honking, snorting, bleating, roaring, squeak-panting, moo-gruting, shrieking, groaning, rumbling, and finally humphing.
Photo credit: gallery.nen.gov.uk