The Massive Indian Rhinoceros
Most of us have seen a picture of an Indian Rhinoceros but may not remember its name. This unusual creature resembles an ‘armor-plated’ rhinoceros as its thick, loose skin forms folds here and there creating a ‘plated’ effect. This is one of the Indian Rhinoceros’ most distinctive features. The fact that it has only one horn is also quite unique. All in all, the Indian Rhinoceros is one of the world’s most distinguished land mammals and it is certainly a precious feature of Nepal’s wildlife. If you do not spot it in Nepal, you are unlikely to see it anywhere else, since this precious mammal is found only in Nepal and in Assam, India.
Also known as the Great One-horned Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis), this unusual pachyderm can usually be found in the tall grasslands and forests that are found at the foot of the Himalayas. The Indian Rhinoceros in Nepal has thick, silver-brown skin and warty bumps on its shoulders and upper legs as well as prickly, sparse body hair. It is quite a large animal and is classified as the fourth-largest land animal in terms of size. It is beaten only by three different elephant species. The male is usually larger than the female and may weigh as much as 3 000 kilograms (6 600 lb)! Despite their immense size, Indian Rhinos are excellent swimmers. They are also capable of reaching speeds of roughly 55 kilometers per hour on land but can only maintain such speeds for a short period of time. The Indian Rhinoceros also has a keen sense of hearing but unfortunately has somewhat meager eyesight. The single horn which is characteristic of the species is present in both males and females and starts to show as a small bump after about six years. As it continues growing until death, it may reach lengths of up to 100 centimeters.
Currently the Indian Rhinoceros can only be found in Nepal and one other part of India. It is thought that they once roamed a far more extensive area, reaching as far into the continent as China, Pakistan and Burma. However human encroachment and hunting crippled the natural population and range of this unusual creature to the extent that it is not only endangered by that only a few small populations exist in only two locations in the world. For the most part it would seem that Indian Rhinos are solitary and even shy. They seldom fight each other and their only natural predator is the tiger which would seldom attempt an attack on a fully grown rhinoceros. Today you are most likely to find these heavily protected creatures in the Chitwan National Park of Nepal as well as in two different parks in India.