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Indian Rhinoceros

Indian Rhinoceros Facts

Scientific NameRhinoceros Unicornis
Size (L)1.7m - 2m (5.6ft - 6.6ft)
Weight2,200kg - 3,000kg (4,900lbs - 6,600lbs)
Top Speed42km/h (30mph)
Lifespan45-50 years
Conservation StatusEndangered
ColourBrown, Grey, Black
Skin TypeLeather
Favourite FoodGrass
HabitatTropical bushland, grassland and savannas
Average Litter Size1
Main PreyGrass, Fruit, Berries, Leaves
PredatorsHuman, Wild cats
Special FeaturesHard, thick skin and only one horn

Indian Rhinoceros Location

Map of Indian Rhinoceros Locations
Map of Asia

Indian Rhinoceros

This one-horned ‘armored unicorn’ once roamed across India and Nepal, but today is rebounding from near extinction.

The Indian rhinoceros (also known as the greater one-horned rhinoceros and the Asian one-horned rhinoceros) is a species of rhinoceros native to parts of India and Nepal. Although the Indian rhinoceros is still under threat today, its numbers have rebounded to the point it’s no longer endangered.


Incredible Indian Rhino Facts! 

  • Once numbering fewer than 100 individuals, today the great one-horned rhinoceros has seen its population rebound to the point it’s no longer endangered but listed as ‘Vulnerable.’
  • Also known as the greater one-horned rhinoceros, the Indian rhino is the largest rhinoceros species in Asia and can weigh up to 3,000 kg (6,600 lbs)!
  • The Indian rhino was brought to Europe during the Renaissance in 1515! Artwork of the animal was mass produced across Europe and has been hailed as “the most influential animal picture ever.


Indian Rhinoceros Scientific Name

The scientific name for the Indian rhinoceros is Rhinoceros unicornis. The genus Rhinoceros is Greek for ‘nose’ and ‘horn’ and comprises the two species of one-horned rhinos, the Indian and Javan rhinoceros.Unicornis is latin and means one-horned.


Indian Rhino Appearance

The Indian rhino is the second largest rhinoceros species after the white rhino, weighing 2,200 to 3,000 kg (4,900 to 6,600 lbs). At its shoulders, it stands 1.7 to 2 meters (5.6 to 6.6 ft).

All rhino species have thick skin that forms a natural “armor” across their bodies, but the skin of the Indian rhinoceros has a unique appearance where flexible skin folds give the look of armor plates across its body.

In addition, the Indian rhino has distinctive bumps that can cover its legs, shoulders, and hindquarters.

Greater one-horned rhinoceros

A common name for the Indian rhino is the ‘greater one-horned rhinoceros.’ In historic times, the range of the Indian rhinoceros overlapped with a subspecies of the Javan rhinoceros, a species of rhino that also has one horn but is smaller than the Indian rhinoceros. Thus, the Javan rhino was often distinguished as the ‘lesser one-horned rhinoceros.’

Today, the Javan rhino subspecies that used to live across parts of India and Southeast Asia is extinct (although Javan rhinos still survive in Indonesia), but the name ‘greater one-horned rhinoceros’ is still commonly used for Indian rhinos.

The Indian rhino’s horn is generally less than a foot (30 cm) in length, although it has reached record sizes of up to 23 inches (57 cm).


Indian Rhino Habitat

Historically, the Indian rhinoceros had a vast range across northern India but today that range has been drastically reduced due to excessive hunting. The Indian rhinoceros is now confined to the tall grasslands and forests that surround the Himalayas Mountain range.

Grasslands the Indian rhino live in includes the Terai-Duar grasslands, which are among the tallest in the world. The region’s ‘elephant grass’ can reach up to 22 ft (7 m), tall enough to provide cover even for a species the Indian rhino’s size.


Indian Rhino Population -- How Many Indian Rhinos Are Left?

Its estimated that fewer than 100 Indian rhinos were left at the beginning of the 20thcentury. Across the 20th century populations rebounded, and as of 2019, an estimated 3,600 individuals live in the wild.

The rebound in Indian rhino populations has been strong enough that as of 2008, the species is no longer listed as Endangered. Instead, Indian rhinos are listed as Vulnerable despite having a lower population than the Critically Endangered black rhinoceros.

Despite its increasing populations, Indian rhinos continue to face several threats. For example, the majority of Indian rhinos – 2,413 individuals as of 2018 – live in India’s Kaziranga National Park. This concentration means a disease could take a significant toll on this concentrated population.


Indian Rhino Diet

The Indian rhino lives across a fertile plain that has abundant tall-grass it consumes for the majority of its diet. Indian rhinos are herbivorous animals, and in addition to grass will also browse the densely vegetated sub-tropical forest for leaves, flowers, buds, fruits, berries and roots which they dig up from the ground using their horns.


Indian Rhino Predators

Due to its large size, the Indian rhino's only real predator in the wild are large wild cats such as tigers that will prey on the Indian rhino calves and weak individuals. Humans are the biggest threat to the Indian rhinoceros as they have been hunted to the brink of extinction for their horns.


Indian Rhino Reproduction and Life Cycles

The Indian rhinoceros is a solitary animal and only comes together with other Indian rhinos to mate. The female Indian rhinoceros gives birth to a single calf after a gestation period that is over a year long (about 15-16 months). The Indian rhinoceros calf remains with its mother until it is at least 2 years old and big enough to become independent.


Indian Rhinos in Zoos

As of 2018, 67 zoos were home to 182 Indian rhinos. In total, there are 1,037 different rhinos of differing species across the worlds zoos.

Select zoos where you can see an Indian rhino in person!

  • Zoo Miami: Welcomed a new Indian rhino calf on May 1, 2019.
  • Cincinnati: Once home to the Sumatran rhino, today the Cincinnati Zoo houses an Indian rhino named ‘Manjula.’
  • San Diego Safari Park: Welcomed a calf Indian rhino to its Savanna field exhibit in August, 2019.


Indian Rhino Facts

  • Durer’s Rhinoceros
    • In 1515 an Indian rhinoceros was sent to the King of Portugal in Lisbon. The exotic animal was shocking at the time, and a woodcut created by a German painter went on to be mass produced across Europe. Unfortunately, the Indian rhino soon thereafter drowned, when a boat bringing it to the Pope was lost at sea.
  • How do you count Indian rhinos? On the backs of elephants!
    • Two-thirds of Indian rhinos live in Kaziranga National Park. Every three years a census is conducted to see if the population of Indian rhinos in this vital park continues to grow. To count the rhinos, officials rode 40 elephants in addition to sports vehicles.
  • Poaching remains a threat, but…
    • While poaching remains a threat, in 2015 Kaziranga National Park guards shot dead more would-be poachers than rhinos were shot. The relative protection from poaching is one of the reasons Indian rhinos are no longer listed as Endangered.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is the Indian rhino extinct in India?

No, the Indian rhino today lives in both India and Nepal. Historically, the Sumatran rhino and Javan rhino also lived in India, but the subspecies of both animals that once lived in India are extinct today.

Is the Indian rhino Endangered?

Not anymore. While the Indian rhino has a lower population than the black rhino, which is listed as "Critically Endangered," the Indian rhino today is listed as "Vulnerable."

A big reason for the Indian rhinos population is the much more limited poaching of the species which has allowed its number to rebound for a sustained period.