The rhinoceros, commonly referred to as rhino, is a species of the odd-toed angulate in the Rhinocerotidae family. It is the largest land mammal after the elephant. Rhinos are hunted and killed for their horns which are precious commodities in the black market. Rhino’s horns can cost as much as gold. Some species like the Sumatran and the African species have two horns while the rest have one horn. Rhinos are commonly found in Africa and Asia. Their preferred habitat varies from one species to another but generally from dense forest to Savanna in the tropics and subtropics. To understand their habitat, we will consider each of the species.
Habitat of the Black Rhino
The black rhino is classified as endangered by the IUCN with three subspecies declared extinct. It is also known as hook-lipped rhino because of the pointed and prehensile upper lip. The black rhino is relatively small compared to the white rhino and is almost the same size as the Javan Rhino. The black rhino is native to the southern and eastern Africa including countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, Malawi, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe among other countries. It had a wider range in prehistoric time than today. Human activities such as agriculture and hunting have greatly reduced their range.
Habitat of the White Rhino
The white rhino and the black rhino are the two African rhinos. The white rhino is subdivided into the southern and northern white rhino subspecies. There are about 20,000 species of the southern white rhino compared to only two northern white rhinos, both of which are female. The southern subspecies are mainly found in Southern Africa in countries such as South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Namibia. The two surviving northern species are living in captivity in Sudan while the last male died in Kenya in May 2018. White rhinos are generally found in grassland and savanna habitat.
Habitat of the Indian Rhino
As the name suggests, the Indian rhino, also known as the greater one-horned rhino, is native to the Indian subcontinent. It is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN due to its fragmented population that is restricted to an area of about 7,700 square miles. Although they once ranged throughout the Indo-Gangetic Plain, uncontrolled hunting and agricultural activities restricted them to only 11 sites in India and Nepal. Their habitat is surrounded by buildings and farms such that they are restricted to adjacent cultivated areas and secondary forest.
Habitat of the Sumatran Rhino
The Sumatran or hairy rhino is the smallest species of rhino. Like the African rhinos, it has two horns; one large and a stub. It is mainly found in both the lowland and secondary forests, inhabiting the hilly areas that are close to water sources. They were once found in countries such as Burma, India, and Bangladesh. However, all the living are now found in the Peninsular Malaysia, Borneo, Sabah, and Sumatran. The species is widely scattered in its range more than the other Asian rhinos, making it difficult to protect them.
Habitat of the Javan Rhino
The Javan or Sunda rhino is a rare rhino species, belonging to the same genus as the Indian rhino. It is Java’s largest animal and the second-largest in Indonesia after the Asian elephant. It has a single horn and its horn is the smallest of the five species. There are fewer than 100 Javan rhinos in the wild today. The species was once found in abundance in Bengal, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Laos. They prefer lowland rainforest and grassland with adequate rivers or wetland with many muds wallows.