There are five remaining species of rhinoceros left in existence today. The other six known species have become extinct due to various reasons, but mainly because of hunting and poaching.

These extant (or remaining) species share many similar characteristics, but are also quite different from one another in certain respects.

They are found in various regions all over the world, although their natural habitats are confined to Africa and Asia.

The five remaining rhino species are:

The White Rhinoceros
The White Rhinoceros is found predominantly in South Africa, and is identified by its wide, flat upper lip (as opposed to the hooked lip of the other species). There are two subspecies that fall under the “White Rhino” umbrella the Northern White Rhinoceros and the Southern White Rhinoceros. The Southern subspecies is far more prolific than the Northern. In fact, there are believed to be fewer than 10 Northern White Rhinos in existence in the wild. Major efforts are underway to enable those in captivity to breed to save this subspecies from total extinction. The Southern White Rhino’s numbers are considerably higher, at around 14 000 individuals.

Like the Black and Sumatran Rhinos, the White Rhino has two horns on its snout. The anterior horn is large and prominent, while the posterior one (behind it) is much smaller. The flat upper lip allows the White Rhino to graze on grasses at ground level. This rhino’s colour ranges from brown to slate-grey.

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The Black Rhinoceros
The Black Rhinoceros, which also displays varying shades of browns and greys as typical hide colours, is also known as the hooked-lipped rhino for its long upper lip. This adaptation enables it to grasp long grasses, fruits and leaves. There are four subspecies of Black Rhino;namely 1) the Western Rhino (Diceros bicornis longipes), 2) the Eastern Rhino (Diceros bicornis michaeli), 3) the South-western Rhino (Diceros bicornis bicornis) and 4) the South Central Rhino (Diceros bicornis minor).

The Black Rhino has two horns, the front of which is far more prominent than the one behind it. In terms of its physical size, it is smaller than the White Rhino, but still a massive animal. In general, the Black Rhino favours open woodlands as its habitat of choice.

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The Indian Rhinoceros
This rhino is found in Nepal and North-Eastern India. Its habitat is confined to the Himalayan forests and the tall grasslands. This rhino only has one horn, sharing this characteristic with the Javan Rhino.

The Indian Rhinoceros is characterised by its plated hide, which makes it appear to be wearing heavy armour. This is caused by large folds in the skin, where the hide is thinner and more flexible, between broad plates of tougher hide. The skin is covered in warty bumps.

This species is classified as being Vulnerable, and there are only about 2 500 individuals left today. The vast majority of these animals live in the Indian Kaziranga National Park.

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The Javan Rhinoceros
The Rhinoceros sondaicus, less formally known as the Javan Rhino, is one of the world’s most critically endangered species, with only a few dozen still in existence. These few specimens live in Indonesia and Vietnam;preferring dense rainforests, tall grasses and reed beds as their ideal habitat.

The Javan Rhinoceros has only one horn (for which it has been hunted to near-extinction), and a similar plated hide to its Indian cousin. This gives it a somewhat prehistoric appearance.

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The Sumatran Rhinoceros
The smallest of the remaining rhino species, the Sumatran Rhino is known for being the only one of its kind that has body hair. The older the animal, the less hair it has, which gives baby rhinos a particularly shaggy look. The coarse hair covers a body that has a distinct red-brown colour and keeps it warm in harsh climates and at high iteitudes.

The Sumatran Rhino has two horns and a hooked lip to aid in its eating fruit, leaves and long grasses. Of all of the rhino species, this is the most threatened.

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