Rhinoceros

Believed to be one of the most pre-historic of all animal species, the Rhino has existed on the Earth for more than 60 million years, living in forests, dense thickets and savannah. At the turn of the last century there were thought to be around 100,000 rhinos worldwide. Today the population has been reduced to approximately 11,000. Of the three species of rhino found in Asia, the Great Indian One Horned rhino is the most abundant, with around 1,900 animals left in India, Bhutan and Nepal. Approximately 400-500 Sumatran rhino are left in the wild together with fewer than 60 Javan Rhino. Despite the international ban on trade in rhino horn, which was introduced in 1977, poaching continues to push the rhino perilously close to extinction. Rhino horn is used for traditional Chinese medicine including the treatment of fevers and other maladies such heart and liver trouble. However recent studies suggest there is no real medicinal value in Rhino horn, which is made up of Keratin, the same substance as a human fingernail. The trade continues mainly due to the traditional belief in its healing properties within many Asian societies. Rhino horn is also used for intricate carving of dagger handles and cups and fetches high prices in the Middle East.

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Great Indian One Horned Rhinoceros.

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Sumatran Rhinoceros. One of the world’s rarest animals.

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Nepal. The King of Nepal posing on the massive head of an Indian One Horned rhinoceros. Circa early 1900’s.

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Park ranger posing with the skull of a poached Indian One Horned rhinoceros. Chitwan Royal National Park, Nepal. Photo: Patrick Brown

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Convicted rhino poachers, Pabitora Wildlife Reserve, Assam, India. Copyright © Adam Oswell