By Amelia Meyer
Animals in the wild rely on their senses in order to find food and water, be aware of dangers, interact with others and find their way.
The five main senses in both humans and animals are sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing.
Usually, animals will depend on these senses in combination (that is, they will hear a noise and then look for the source of it, using their ears and eyes, for example).
Despite its compromised sense of sight, the rhino enjoys excellent senses of hearing and smell. Its ears are able to rotate, allowing the animal to perceive sounds that are all around them with equal intensity.
The ears are cup-shaped to enable them to catch the sounds effectively and direct them to the inner ear.
There are both distressing sounds (such as the shriek of birds warning the rhino of approaching danger) and reassuring sounds (the content grunting of the calf), which need to be filtered, processed and acted upon accordingly.
The sense of smell is a very important one, as it helps the rhino to detect something that it may not be able to see or hear. Each nostril possesses a small patch comprising millions of individual sensory cells.
These patches are each only the size of a small coin, but are extremely sensitive;able to pick up subtle smells carried by the wind. The olfactory centre of the brain is responsible for receiving and interpreting these smells.
Interestingly, this is the largest area of the rhino’s brain; testifying to its importance.
The rhino’s senses of taste and touch are present, but do not contribute significantly to its quality of life or its survival. Rhinos are herbivorous and, therefore, do not need specialised taste buds in order to taste whether food is fresh or not.