Robust Rhinos: Fun Facts, Endangerment Status & Saving Them!
Three of the five known rhino species are classified as critically endangered by the IUCN. They are the African Black rhino, the Asian Sumatran rhino and the Asian Javan rhino. The remaining two species are called the African White Rhino and the Asian Greater One-horned (aka Indian) Rhino. White rhinos are near threatened, and the greater one-horned rhino is classed vulnerable by the WWF.
Did you know their name comes from 'nose horn'? Rhinos are known for their glorious horns, and the males are called bulls. Did you know that when upset, they make snorting sounds? Oh! Rhino horns grow continuously, with the record length being 150cm! 3 rhino species have two horns. Can you guess which two have only one?
The Greater One-Horned rhino and the Javan rhino, both Asian species, have only one horn.
Sumatran rhinos are the smallest, weighing 600kg, whilst White rhinos are huge and weigh around 3,500kg. For reference, that's almost twice as much as a modern car - and almost 10 times as much as the first-ever-mass-produced car introduced in 1901 (the Curved Dash Oldsmobile)! Could you ever have guessed that rhinos are actually herbivores? They love their greens and plants!
Both African rhinos are grey. White rhinos have wide, square lips, and the Afrikaans word for it is 'wyd', mistaken for 'white' by English explorers. Comparatively, black rhinos have pointy lips, but explorers called them 'black rhinos' to help differentiate from the (mistaken) 'white' rhino.
A group of rhinos is called a 'crash'. Masculine and feminine traits exist in rhinos as well, where the females are more sociable, whilst the males are solitary and territorial. It's similar to elephant and whale females and males, though perhaps without the territorial nature, given that both mammals are migratory. Females are called 'cows', and rhinoceros young are referred to as 'calves'.
Rhinos don't actually have any natural predators, but they're quite gentle... maybe that's easy to understand knowing that they're herbivores. In any case, they get easily spooked and their instinct is to charge at whatever's frightened them.
Do you remember that giraffes have a bunch of genetic advantages that protect them from nuisances like thorns and bugs? Rhinos have behavioural traits that do the same, such as rolling around in the mud to keep them cool and protect them from parasites and insect bites.
Did you know that Asian rhinos are great swimmers? So they can cool off in pools and rivers, but their African cousins aren't as skilled (and will instead drown in deep water), so they'd stick to the mud. On the other hand, they're all great diggers, using their horns and feet to excavate minerals.
Rhinos have a poor sense of vision - so if you're standing 30 metres from them, unmoving, they won't know you're there. Nature, however, compensated for them, and rhinos thus have a very strong sense of smell.
Rhino horns are made from keratin - the same protein forming our own nails and hair.
Do you remember the thing with bees having smelly feet? And that they use it to identify which flowers are already used? So, rhinos have a similar thing but with bowel movements! When rhinos relieve themselves in the same area (aka a latrine), they can tell who else is around, so it's a kind of identifier. They also make a bunch of sounds to communicate, including sneeze-like calls for alarms! (Did you know that rhinos scream? They do it when they're scared).
Rhinos are viciously hunted for their horns and are thus seriously threatened by illegal poaching. In the last decade alone, we've lost thousands of these 'mind-our-own-business' and gentle mammals.
Poaching gangs have become incredibly sophisticated in recent years - with the use of helicopters for tracking and hunting and then using chainsaws to acquire a rhino's horn before airlifting it away. No one can deny this cruelty. If the rhino hasn't already died from this brutal assault, it'll bleed to death.
Unfortunately, like many poached animal 'goods', rhino horns are believed to cure various ailments or are otherwise viewed as status symbols. On top of that, rhinos suffer from habitat encroachment due to increased human development and expanding territories.
Since rhinos are an umbrella species, protecting them means protecting all the animals that share their habitat. Since they can live in a variety of environments, like elephants, that means their existence affects a wide ecosystem.
We donate 10% of profits on our Save the Rhinos socks to Helping Rhinos, a charity devoted to rhino conservation. This includes habitat maintenance and protection, anti-poaching initiatives and educational projects! In 2018, the charity upgraded and expanded the facilities of the Zululand Rhino Orphanage, raising £17,000. They also raised £8,000 for White rhino research and protection projects as well as £10,000 for 'Eyes in the Sky', which patrols the air for poaching gangs! Together our Bare Kind community can contribute to the protection of rhinos around Africa, one Save the Rhino sock at a time!