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Asiatic One Horned Rhinoceros

Asiatic one horned Rhino

Jaldapara is known for its Rhino population. There are only a few areas where this elusive beauty can be found. Apart from Kaziranga and Pobitara in Assam, Jaldapara in West Bengal is being the safe home for this wonderful species since long. The grass wetland, ideal for Rhino's provides them natural habitat for their strong survival.

The Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) is also called greater one-horned rhinoceros and Asian one-horned rhinoceros and belongs to the Rhinocerotidae family. Listed as a vulnerable species, the large mammal is primarily found in north-eastern India's Assam and in protected areas in the Terai of Nepal, where populations are confined to the riverine grasslands in the foothills of the Himalayas.

The Indian rhinoceros once ranged throughout the entire stretch of the Indo-Gangetic Plain but excessive hunting reduced the natural habitat drastically. Today, about 3,000 rhinos live in the wild, 2,000 of which are found in India's Assam alone. It is the fourth largest land animal.

The name rhinoceros comes from the Greek words, "rhino" meaning nose and "ceros" meaning horn. The Asian One-horned Rhinoceros is monotypic, meaning there are no distinct subspecies. 

The Asian One-horned Rhinoceros can run at speeds of up to 40 kmph (kilometer per hour) for a short duration of time and is also an excellent swimmer. It has an excellent sense of hearing and smell, but relatively poor eyesight. The average lifespan of the Asian One-horned Rhinoceros is about 40 years.


Among terrestrial land mammals native to Asia, the Indian rhinoceros is second in size only to the Asian elephant. This heavily built species is also the second largest living rhinoceros, behind only the White Rhinoceros. Males have average head and body length of 368–380 cm (12.07–12.5 ft) with a shoulder height of 163–193 cm (5.35–6.33 ft) while females have an average head and body length of 310–340 cm (10.2–11.2 ft) and have a shoulder height of 147–173 cm (4.82–5.68 ft).The weights of captive individuals from the Basel Zoo were around 1,600 kg (3,500 lb) on average for the females and around 2,100 kg (4,600 lb) on average for the males. The skull is heavy with a basal length above 60 cm (24 in) and an occiput above 19 cm (7.5 in).

The largest sized specimens can range up to 4,000 kg (8,800 lb).

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 6 years. In most adults, the horn reaches a length of about 25 cm (9.8 in), but has been recorded up to 57.2 cm (22.5 in) in length.The nasal horn is slightly back-curved with a base of about 18.5 cm (7.3 in) by 12 cm (4.7 in) that rapidly narrows until a smooth, even stem part begins about 55 mm (2.2 in) above base. In captive animals, the horn is frequently worn down to a thick knob.

The Indian rhinoceros has thick, silver-brown skin, which becomes pinkish near the large skin folds that cover its body. 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 develop thick neck-folds.

Distribution and 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 parts of Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan. They may have also existed in Myanmar, southern China and Indochina.They prefer the alluvial plain grasslands of the Terai and 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.

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, of the late 73rd N.I., got his skulls, which were, strange to say, the first that Mr. Blyth had seen of this species, of which there were no specimens in the Museum of the Asiatic Society at the time when he wrote his Memoir on this group.

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 2007, the total population was estimated to be 2,575 individuals, of which 2,200 lived in Indian protected areas:

  • in Kaziranga National Park: 2,048 (2009 estimate)— increased from 366 in 1966
  • in Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary: 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

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 (14.98 sq mi).

The population of rhinos in Nepal increased by 99 individuals from 2008 to 2011 and in 2011 totaled 503. Of these, 145 were male, 183 female 183 and 175 of unidentified gender; 332 were adults, 111 calves and 60 of intermediate age.

In Pakistan's Lal Suhanra National Park, two rhinos from Nepal were introduced in 1983 but have not bred so far.


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