Black And White Rhinoceros

The black and white rhinoceros is doomed to extinction unless in protected areas.

The black rhino (Diceros bicornis) is in serious danger of extinction. Diceros is from the Greek meaning "two" as in it has two horns. Bicornis is from the Latin bi, that means "two" and cornis, meaning "horn". The scientific origin of the black rhino is Ceratotherium simum. Ceratotherium is derived from the Greek word cerato that means "horn" and from therium meaning "wild beast". Simum is from the Green word simus that means "flat nosed." There are two distinct types of rhinoceros and these are the black and the white. The name given to the white rhino is derived from the Boer word "widje" that means wide. This is in reference to the shape of the upper lip and not to the color.

This is one of the largest animals in the world as the hook-lipped rhinoceros will weigh to two tons. The black rhino is not black as it is endowed with a slate-grey coloring that can even appear white or even red. He wallows in dark colored soil and covers himself with this soil appearing to be black. In regions where there is volcanic soil he will be black from the soil. The only body hair that is apparent on the black rhino is at the tip of the tail and edges of the ear. It has rib like folds along the flanks. In the jaws there are seven molars in each jaw. The lip is hooked and is known as the prehensile lip. The upper lip tends to be very wide. All the hooked lip rhinos belong to the Diceros bicornis. This rhino can grow to between 1,750 to 3,000 pounds and can be up to 5.5 feet tall at the shoulder. The body is somewhat shaped like a barrel on very strong legs with five toes on each foot with sole pads. The tail is tasseled and the hips are shorter than the shoulders. The ears are funnel-shaped and the eyes are small on a long head.

The black rhino is very shortsighted and has a problem in distinguishing objects at a distance. They are able to hear very well and the ears will turn quickly when a noise is heard especially when the noise is not familiar. The sense of smell is very good especially in following the scent of another rhino. Their sense of smell makes up for the eyesight being weak.

The horns are impressive and are much in demand by poachers These horns are used as a dagger handle, the male status symbol in South Yemen and can bring up to $l5,000.00 for them. They are also used for a nerve tonic for pharmaceutical uses. The ground up rhino horns are supposed to be an aphrodisiac, also to reduce fever, cure heart and liver trouble plus be a cure for headaches. In Asia the blood and urine are thought to have a medical value. The horns are also used in ceremonial and traditional daggers. There are two horns with one set behind the other. The African rhinos have two but the Indian rhinos (Rhinoceros unicornis) have only a single horn. The horns are composed of packed bundles of hair-like structures almost like the hooves and toe nails. They are mounted on the rough areas of the rhino's skull. Rhino's in the wild in Africa will grow longer horns than those kept in zoo. After one set of horns are snapped another set starts to grown. Usually the front horn is longer than the rear.

The black rhinos have necks that are longer than the white so they are able to reach further into trees for twigs, etc. The white rhino grazes on the ground for most of the food. The white rhinos are separated by definition as there are white rhinos (C. S. Cottoni) in the northern area. This area is from the southern Sudan west to Zaire toward Lake Chad. The white rhino (C. S. Simum) lives in an area south of Zambezi in Africa. The foreheads in the white rhinos have variations in the concavity of their foreheads.

The black rhinos seem to like twigs and they will use the pointed upper lip to grasp these twigs. They will uproot small shrubs or bushes and can even uproot trees as they will grab the tree between their horns and then twist till the tree is uprooted. They especially like the spiky twigs of the thorn-bush. They have been seen eating their own dung especially in areas of very short grass. This process is thought to be a hormone replacement. The horns are used to dig mineral salts from the earth. The black rhino likes to range in a moist forest while the white rhino likes grasslands. They can make it without drinking water for days but prefer to dwell in an area with plentiful water supplies. When they are taken from the wild there is a period of adjustment but they do adapt better than most large mammals to a protected area. If they are fed most of their food in zoos they like horse cubes, carrots, bananas, hay and lucerne chaff.

Rhinos will stay alone except during mating if possible. At places where they wallow they will tend to be alone in a small group. The white rhinos will be a little more sociable than the black ones. Most of the time you will not see two rhinos together other than the time a female spends with her calf. The males will have a territory of perhaps a square mile in the forest or up to 35 square miles in a grassland area. This territory will be marked with large dung piles called middens. The other rhinos will come along and sniff these piles but the most dominant of the males will be the only one to put his dung there to mark. The white rhino females will rub noses when they meet but the males are not as friend, whether black or white. Sometimes fighting will occur and wounds will be incurred due to the horns of the aggressor. The fighting is usually between a cow and a bull.

The rhinos will mate during all the seasons and young can be born anytime during the year. There is a sort of courtship that could continue for days leading to mating which can last as long as an hour. During the time a cow will be in heat a bull will stand facing her and sniffing each other and make sounds. Then the cow will attack the bull and butt him in the flank. If a second bull appears, the cow will chose the bull she wants for mating. Sexual maturity is reached in the female at between 4 to 5 years and she will deliver her first calf within 6 to 8 years. For the male he reaches sexual maturity between 7 and 8 years and will claim his first territory at approximately 10 years. The female will deliver her calf in a thicket if possible. She will nurse the calf for at least a year but the calf starts eating grass at about two months. The calf can weigh from 45 to 85 pounds a birth. The female will keep her calf with her for 2 to 4 years or until she has another calf. The calf of the black rhino will run behind the mother and the white rhino calf will run in front of the mother.

Man has killed so many rhinos for the horns that especially in Africa they are living in well protected areas and some are in zoos in different areas of the world. This large animal is an important species that needs protection from poachers.

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