Indian Rhino Threats

Greater one-horned rhinos have few natural predators and humans are their greatest threat. Historically, they were hunted to near extinction for sport and for their horns. Their horns are used in traditional Asian medicine, seen as a cure-all for ailments ranging from arthritis, cancer, and fever to demon possession. Some believe that the horns of greater one-horned rhinos are more potent than those of the African species, who each have two horns. 

As human populations rise, more land is needed for living and farming areas. Fertile soil is most desired for agricultural purposes and riverine grasslands, the greater one’ horned rhinos’ preferred habitat, are often extremely fertile. This creates conflict and, until protected wildlife areas were established, led to the decimation of greater one-horned rhino habitat.

In some parks and reserves, like Chitwan National Park in Nepal and Orang National Park in India, signs indicate that habitat quality has decreased over time. Invasion of alien plants and heavy grazing by domestic livestock may also have had a negative impact on the grasslands. As habitat quality and protected wildlife areas decrease and human populations increase, greater pressure will be placed on populations of greater one-horned rhinos, causing higher population densities and an increase in competition for food and mates.










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