Rhino Sculpture: Some Facts
There are 5 species of Rhino. Two African and three Asian. Three of these (Black, Sumatran and Javan) are listed as ‘critically endangered’. There are thought to be fewer than 70 Javan and 100 Sumatran rhinos left in the wild. Meaning their populations are truly under threat of extinction.
Sumatran rhinos are the smallest, but they can still weigh 600kg. And white rhinos are the largest, weighing up to 3,500kg (over 550 stone, or well over 3 tonnes!). This is mighty impressive considering they mainly eat grass and leaves.
Male rhinos are called ‘bulls’ and females are called ‘cows’. Their young are ‘calves’. Females tend to be more sociable than the more solitary, territorial males. Together, a group of rhinos is called a ‘crash’.
Rhinos’ eyesight isn’t great. They’re unable to see a motionless person at a distance of 30m – they mainly rely on their strong sense of smell.
The names of black and white rhinos are misleading. Both are actually grey. The white rhino is said to have gotten its name from the Afrikaans word for wide (‘wyd’). This refers to its wide, square lip (in contrast, black rhinos have a pointy upper lip). Early English explorers mistook this word for ‘white’. Consequently, they named this species ‘white’ rhino. They named the other other ‘black’ rhino to differentiate.
Rhino horn is made up of keratin. This is the same protein which forms the basis of our hair and nails. Javan and greater one-horned rhinos only have one horn. All the other rhino species have two horns. Their horns grow continuously during their lifetime. The white rhino’s horn can grow 7cm every year. The record length is 150cm long!
Ground rhino horn is used in traditional Asian medicine to ‘cure’ a range of ailments. And the horn is seen as a status symbol, particularly in Vietnam. Habitat loss and fragmentation are an increasing threat to rhinos. Human populations and infrastructure grows, encroaching on rhino habitat.