Rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus Sumatrensis )

Rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus Sumatrensis )

- in Mammal, Endemic, Fauna
245

ITS–HlmOf three species of Rhinoceros living in Asia, two live in Indonesia: the Sumatran Rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) and the Javan rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus). Called badak in the Indonesian language, both species differ in that the Sumatran species has two horns and the Javan species one horn. Other Asian species live in India (Rhinoceros unicornis).

The Sumatran is the smallest species in the world. It is about 100-135 centimetres tall, 250-280 centimetres long and weighs around 800-1,000 kilograms. The Javan rhinoceros is much bigger and about twice as heavy. Its average height is about 140 to 170 centimetres and its body is 305-320 centimetres long, including the around 70 centimetre long head.

In the wild, there are estimates of around 800 Sumatran Rhinoceros; of these 700 are in Sumatra, the rest possibly remains in Kalimantan. In Sumatra, they live in the Krinci Seblat and Mount Leuser national parks. This species is officially protected by the government. Much fewer in number, the population of the Javan Rhinoceros is estimated at around 60, concentrated in the Ujung Kulon national park on the western tip of Java. This species is also fully protected by the government. In the first half of the 19th century, both species still roamed in the South to Southeast Asia in large numbers, but they are now almost extinct because of large scale poaching. Around six Javan rhinoceros are believed to remain alive in Vietnam.

Poachers hunt rhinoceros for its horn which is used in Chinese medicines as fever tonics and, sometimes, as an aphrodisiac. The rhinoceros requires a large area of land 100 square kilometers per rhinoceros for the Sumatran species, around 15 to 20 kilometers for the Javan species to survive. They love wallowing in the mud. Largely a solitary wanderer, except when mating, it is extremely shy and therefore very difficult to observe in the field. They communicate with each other through smell, leaving urine squirts and communal dung piles. The difference among scents indicates to a male whether a female is in heat or pregnant.

The Sumatran species eats leaves and twigs of more than 100 plant species, and it enjoys eating fruits and mango steens. The Javan rhinoceros browses on some 190 plant species, ranging from pandanus palms to mangoes, young bamboos and figs. Pregnancies among both species are believed to occur only once every four year, lasts 14-19 months and produces only one calf.  In order to conserve the animals, a lot of efforts have been made to breed them in zoos, but none of these captive breeding efforts have thus far been successful. Thus, conservationists today are more in favour of in situ conservation.

Scientific Classification:

Kingdom         : Animalia

Phylum            : Chordata

Class                : Mammalia

Order               : Perissodactyla

Family             : Rhinocerotidae

Genus              : Dicerorhinus

Species            : D. sumatrensis

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