Indian Rhinoceros

(Rhinoceros unicornis)



Males-5000 lbs.  Females-3500 lbs.  Calves-140 lbs.


Lives 30-40 years in the wild

Population in  the Wild:

About 2,500 individuals in the wild

Family Life:

Mostly solitary


Occupies riverine habitat


Runs up to 25 mph

What they eat:

Eats grasses, shrubs (herbivore)

Closest  Relatives:

Related to the tapir

Relationship to Humans:


A rhinoceros-like creature is the mode of transportation for the Hindu god Akkanee (God of Fire).

photo M Noonan

      Fun Fact:

      The Indian Rhinoceros has large folds of skin that look like armor, even when they are born. Their horns are mostly made up of keratin, which is also found in the fingernails and hair of humans. Indian Rhinos are usually territorial, and mark their territories with large piles of dung called middens.

Conservation Status:

The Indian rhino was once found all over Northwest India, Nepal, and Pakistan, but is now only in small, protected pockets of land in India and Nepal. The two main threats to the Indian rhino are poaching and habitat loss. Poachers kill rhino to sell their horn, which some people believe has magical or medicinal properties. 

What is being done now?

In 1905, Kaziranga National Park in Assam, India, was established to protect Assamís last 10-20 wild Indian rhinos. Now, there are about 1800 individuals in Kaziranga, and over 2,200 in different parks in India. In the 1960s, Nepalís Indian rhino population had plummeted to 65, but with protection, has increased to just over 600.  The Rhino populations in both India and Nepal have increased, which is partly due to strong penalites associated with poaching.

What should be done in the future?

Rhinos need lots of water, grassland, and space to sustain them. The ideal solution is for large areas of grassland to continue to be set aside for rhinos, with corridors in between. People must continue to be educated about the threats rhinos face and not buy or sell anything made of rhino horn, so there would be no temptation to poach the rhino.


Content provided by Canisius College students under the direction of Michael Noonan, PhD.