There are five surviving species of rhinoceros: the Black, the Javan and the Sumatran rhinos are listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List, meaning they could be extinct within 30-60 years.
The Sumatran rhino is covered in a leathery, dark grey-brown skin. It is often called the “hairy rhino” because it has tufty reddish brown hair, unlike other rhinos. The Sumatran rhino is the only rhino in Asia that has two horns, however the smaller one never grows to more than about ten centimetres, which can make it look like it only has one horn.
This rhino used to be found from the foothills of the Himalayas, through Eastern China right down to Peninsular Malaysia as well as the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Borneo. However, today it is believed only about 200 rhinos survive mainly in parts of Sumatra and possibly Peninsula Malaysia.
The Sumatran rhino lives in dense forests, swamps and forest highlands, staying close to water where they spend most of their day wallowing in muddy pools that they often dig or deepen themselves to keep them cool and protect them against insects. They like to eat in the evening and before dawn when it is cooler and live off up to 100 different types of fruit, bamboo, twigs, leaves and bark!
Sumatran rhinos are rather shy, solitary animals staying within their own home range. The young usually stay with their mother until they are about 18 months old. Rhinos begin breeding when they are 7 or 8 years old, with a wait of 3 to 4 years between each birth. As the gestation period is about 15 to 16 months and not always successful, these animals are seriously at risk.
The Sumatran rhino is the most endangered of all of the rhinoceros species, numbers have fallen more than 50% over the past 20 years, mainly because of poaching and habitat destruction. Rhino Protection Units help protect them and give this vulnerable species a chance at breeding and surviving.
Further information about this gentle (if sometimes grumpy) animal can be found through ARKIVE: www.arkive.com and the International Rhino Foundation: www.rhinos.org.
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