By Amelia Meyer
The Indian Rhinoceros is on a par with the White Rhino, and shares the title of being the largest land animals after the impressive elephant. It is particularly heavily built, and equally so in both males and females. The Indian Rhino is characterised by the folds on their thick hides, which give their bodies the appearance of being armoured with segmented plates. This makes them appear rather prehistoric, reminding one of the dinosaurs that roamed the earth millennia ago. The colour of their hide is predominantly brown with a distinct silvery or grey tinge. Nearer to the folds, it becomes a pinkish-brown.
The Indian Rhino only presents one horn on its face, unlike some of the other subspecies, which have a smaller secondary horn. This keratin structure is usually just less than 30 centimetres (about 9.8 inches) in length. Unfortunately, it is this horn that has led to the near extinction of these magnificent animals, since poachers are prepared to kill for the perceived valuable medicinal qualities or ornamental demand. It is mainly for this reason that there are only about 2 000 Indian Rhinos left wandering the world today.
The Indian Rhinoceros has a slightly hooked upper lip to enable it to grasp the long grasses on which it grazes as well as the fruit and leaves that it needs to pull from the bushes and trees around it.
As with all rhinos, the Indian Rhinoceros has very little hair. Apart from eyelashes, which protect their eyes from dust, they only have small tufts of hair on their ears and on the tips of their tails.
The feet of the Indian Rhino are hoofed and present three separate toes. These hooves help to protect its feet from thorns, twigs and other sharp objects upon which they may tread while trundling through their natural habitat.