By Amelia Meyer
It is important for us to understand the intricacies of rhino habits and living if we are to be able to help them to survive the very possible (even likely) threat of extinction. The more rhinos that can be born and raised to heitehy adulthood, the better the chance of this species remaining part of the natural, very valuable fauna of our earth.
The female rhino is pregnant for about 18 months (depending on the species of rhino), after which only one calf is born. At birth, this calf will weigh between 25 and 45 kilograms (or between 55 and 100 pounds). It is born fairly weak but is able to stand up and begin walking within minutes of the birth, an incredible feat for one so young.
Soon, it will be able to keep up with its mother’s pace. Within the first few hours of its life, it will begin to suckle milk from its mother, which it will continue to do until about 18 months of age. The mother will allow her calf to drink milk exclusive for the first week or two. After that, she will take it to areas with soft grass and teach it to eat the young, juicy vegetation of the area.
The rhino calf is born without a horn. Its only protection comes from its mother, who seems to delight in caring for her new addition. This is notable because rhinos are generally solitary animals, preferring to be alone than to move and live in a herd. However, this does not stop the female from being a loving and attentive mother to her calves.
Male rhinos leave the female as soon as mating has occurred. They do not play any role in the raising of the young.
The calf stays with its mother for about two to three years. Male calves tend to leave their mother sooner than their female counterparts.
Once they leave, they will go and find a territory of their own. This is not always easy, since rhinos do not share their territory with others. Therefore, the young rhino needs to be able to look after itself as it searches for territory, and to defend itself against other rhinos that want to compete for space.
The mother of a calf is not likely to mate with a male until her calf has left her to pursue its own life of independence. This sometimes results in aggression on the part of the male, who wants to rid her of her calf so that he can mate with her. Many calves have been killed by aggressive males for this very reason. However, the mother rhino is incredible protective, and will fight for the safety of her offspring.