Did you know that the last 3 northern white rhinos on earth are protected around the clock by armed guards? They’re being protected from poachers while scientists race to find a way to save the subspecies from extinction. 3 of the 5 living rhino species are critically endangered. Here are 5 fun facts you never knew about the rhinoceros.
#1 – The biggest market for rhino horn is Vietnam
Powdered rhino horn in inhaled by the wealthy in Vietnam as a status symbol. Some there believe that rhino horn has aphrodisiac properties. Traditional Chinese medicine promotes rhino horn as a treatment for fevers and convulsions; it was never used as an aphrodisiac. Ironically, false reporting by the western media led to the Vietnamese believing that it was. China has come a long way toward condemning the use of rhino horn at all, leading to the majority of the demand coming from Vietnam. By weight, rhino horns cost as much as gold on the black market.
#2 – White and black rhinos lack front teeth
The two rhino species from Africa use their lips to pluck food rather than front teeth to shear the food off. The biggest difference between white and black rhinos is not their color (they’re both usually grey), it’s the shape of their lips. White rhinos have flat lips for grazing on grass. Black rhinos have pointed lips for grabbing leaves from trees and bushes. Both species have two horns made of keratin – the same material that forms hair and fingernails.
#3 – There are only about 60 Javan rhinos left
The Javan rhinoceros is one of the most endangered large mammals in the world. As of 2015, there were only about 60 left in Java, Indonesia, which are all in the wild. There are no Javan rhinos in captivity. The last Javan rhino in Vietnam was killed in 2011. The Javan only has one horn which may be absent from females.
#4 – Only around 275 Sumatran rhinos remain
Found at very high altitudes in Borneo and Sumatra, the Sumatran Rhinoceros is the smallest living rhinoceros species, though it still weighs around 1,500 pounds. It has 2 horns. There are 3 subspecies, one of which is now extinct. Plantations for palm oil have gobbled up much of the Sumatran rhino’s habitat, and, as with all rhino species, they are poached for their horns.
#5 – ⅔ of Indian Rhinos are confined to one national park in India
Also known as the greater one-horned rhinoceros, Indian rhinos once ranged from Pakistan to Burma and possibly parts of China. ⅔ of the population is now confined to the Kaziranga National Park in Assam, India. The rest are in a few protected areas in India and Nepal with a few pairs at Suhanra National Park in Pakistan.