Scientific Name: Rhinoceros unicornis
IUCN Status: Vulnerable
Quick Facts: Indian rhino numbers have recovered from fewer than 200 in the early 1900s to more than 2,500 today.
Learn More: Visit the International Rhino Foundation to learn about efforts to translocate Indian rhinos within their historic range to create a healthier population
The Indian or greater one-horned rhino has been classically described in literature and art for centuries. Known as the “plated rhino” the Indian rhino has thick shields of skin that protect the rhino’s vital areas during fights with other rhinos. This rhino species lives in moist river valleys in India and Nepal where it congregates in groups in the grassy meadows where they feed, and in mud wallows and water holes to keep cool. The horn of the rhino is made of keratin material (finger nails, hair) but is revered in traditional Asian medicines, reportedly as an analgesic and as a cure for many ailments. The once widespread Indian rhino was reduced to numbers as low as 100 animals by 1960 but due to good management practices and protection by wildlife officers in India and Nepal their numbers have now recovered. Threats to the rhinos continue however due to the ever increasing demand for rhino horn in traditional Asian medicine markets.
White Oak only recently became involved with this rhino species, and our first Indian rhino calf was born here in July 2011. During the Florida summer they can often be found lying completely submerged in their pool to keep cool, with just their nose and ear tips showing above the water’s surface. The Indian rhino’s courtship can be particularly aggressive with both sexes horning and even biting and severely wounding their potential mate. Zoos and conservation centers that provide large spaces for their Indian rhinos (like White Oak) have experienced the most success breeding this species.
In India, rhinos are being trans-located from Kaziranga National Park to other parks in India where rhinos were eliminated by poaching. The International Rhino Foundation and a host of conservation organizations are supporting this work and the positive rhino conservation efforts being implemented by the government of India. Because of these efforts the wild population of Indian rhinos is slowly growing and being replaced into areas where they once thrived.