Common Name: Sumatran Rhinoceros
Species: Dicerorhinus sumatrensis
photo: Cincinnati Zoo &
The Sumatran rhino's scientific name is Dicerorhinus sumatrensis, which means "two
nose-horns belonging to Sumatra".
The Sumatran rhinoceros is a member of the rhino family,
Rhinoceridae in the Mammalian Order of Perissodactyla. All other
living species of rhino are also members of Rhinoceridae. Other
Perissodactyls include tapirs and horses.
photo: Liz Lange
The Sumatran rhino is believed to have been more closely related to
the now extinct woolly rhinoceros than to any of the presently
living species. Similarities to this prehistoric beast are quite
obvious. Unlike the four other rhino species, the Sumatran rhino is
covered in shaggy brown hair. Its two horns are also much smaller
and less pronounced than the other species. The two African species
lack front teeth entirely, while the other two Asian species (Indian
and Javan) still possess incisors. Sumatran rhinos retain their
canines as well.
The Sumatran rhino is the smallest living rhino, ranging from
1300-1700lbs (600-800kg) and standing 5ft tall at the shoulder.
Males and females are relatively the same size. Females have much
smaller horns than males.
photo: Liz Lange
Sumatran Rhino Habitat/Diet
Found primarily in Indonesia and Malaysia, the Sumatran rhino
prefers tropical rainforests and mossy mountain forests. Both
lowland and highland forests are inhabited. These ecosystems provide
Sumatran rhinos with the fruit, leaves, twigs, and bark they prefer
Sumatran Rhino Behavior/Reproduction
Sumatran rhinos are primarily solitary animals, except for females
with their calves. Females have territories, which include a water
source and feeding area. This territory is shared by a few animals.
Males are nomadic, following along riverbeds and game trails. Some
seasonal migration has been observed, with animals moving to the
highlands while the lowlands are flooded, and returning to the
lowlands when the weather is cool and the rains subside. Sumatran
rhinos spend most of their time wallowing in water and mud to keep
insects from biting their sensitive skin. They are good swimmers,
and a Sumatran rhino swimming in the ocean has been observed. As a
species that inhabits the highlands, the Sumatran rhino is also a
photo: Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical
No defined breeding season has been observed. Competition for
females is characterized by males battling each other with their
canines. Gestation is 16 months long. Calves are precocial at birth,
walking shortly after. After about two years they leave their
mother. Females reach sexual maturity at 4 years, while males
sexually mature at 7 years of age. The Sumatran rhino lives to about
30 years of age.
Sumatran Rhino Conservation
The Sumatran rhino's former range spread throughout Asia, from the
Indian subcontinent and the southeast peninsular region to Indonesia
and Malaysia. Unfortunately, due to the demand for rhino horn in
Oriental medicines and deforestation, the Sumatran rhino is
critically endangered. Fewer than 300 individuals remain alive. The
populations that still exist live in scattered pockets throughout
Southeast Asia. Local governments have organized protected areas for
the Sumatran rhino, but poaching is an ever present threat. To curb
the decline in this species population, a captive breeding program
has been instituted. The Cincinnati Zoo has successfully bred
Sumatran rhinos leading to a successful birth.