The Sumatran rhinoceros is an ancient animal of enormous size. To date, it is not so easy to meet in its natural habitat, as the species is almost on the verge of extinction. It is very difficult for zoologists to determine the exact number, since animals lead a hidden, solitary lifestyle and their habitat is very wide. It is this species that is considered the smallest among all existing on earth, as well as the only one in the world who is the owner of two horns.
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The Sumatran rhinoceros is a chordate. It is a representative of the class of mammals, the order of equids, the family of rhinos, the genus and species of the Sumatran rhinoceros. It is considered a very ancient animal. According to the conclusion of scientists, it is the representatives of this species that are descendants of the woolly rhinoceros, which died out about 10 million years ago, which inhabited the whole of Eurasia.
Video: Sumatran rhinoceros
The species this animal belongs to is called Dicerorhinus. In Greek, the name means two horns. The Sumatran rhinoceros diverged from other equids during the early Eocene. The study of the DNA of this animal suggested that the ancestors of the animal separated from the distant ancestors of the equine family about 50 million years ago.
Interesting fact: The oldest fossils that belong to representatives of this species indicate that animals existed 17-24 million years ago. Scientists have not come to a consensus and have not been able to restore a complete picture of the evolution of the rhinoceros.
In this regard, there are several theories of animal evolution. The first says that they are closely related to the African species of rhinoceros, from which they inherited a double horn. The second says about the relationship with the Indian ones, which is confirmed by the intersection of the habitat of the species. The third theory does not confirm any of the previous ones and is based on the results of a genetic examination. It indicates that all of the above species are different and are not related to each other in any way.
Subsequently, scientists discovered a close relationship between Sumatran rhinos and woolly ones. They appeared during the Upper Pleistocene period and completely died out about 10 million years ago.
Appearance and features
Sumatran rhinos are the smallest of all rhinos that exist on earth. The main features of appearance: The height of the body at the withers in different individuals can be from 115 to 150 centimeters. This species of rhinoceros is characterized by the manifestation of sexual dimorphism. The females are somewhat smaller than the males, and their body mass is less. Body length ranges from 240 to 320 centimeters. The body weight of one adult is 900-2000 kilograms. A medium-sized individual weighs mainly 1000-1300 kilograms.
The Sumatran rhinoceros has two horns. The anterior or nasal horn is 15-30 centimeters long. The posterior horn is smaller than the anterior. Its length rarely exceeds 10 centimeters. The horns of males are always longer and thicker than those of females.
An interesting fact: An individual has been recorded in history with a nasal horn, the length of which reached 81 centimeters. This is an absolute record.
The body of the rhinoceros is strong, large, very voluminous. In combination with short, thick legs, an impression of slowness, clumsiness is created. However, this is not at all the case. The body of the animal is covered with folds that stretch from the neck through the sides to the hind limbs. In representatives of this species, skin folds are less pronounced. Rhinos can have different body colors at different stages of their lives. Adults are gray in color.
Babies are born darker. Their body is covered with thick black hair, which rolls out and becomes lighter as they grow older. The head of the rhinoceros is quite large, elongated. On the top of the head are oblong ears, on the tips of which there are so-called “brushes”. There are exactly the same ones on the tip of the tail.
Where does the Sumatran rhinoceros live?
The natural habitat of rhinos is very large. However, today the number of these animals has decreased to a minimum, respectively, and their habitat has narrowed significantly. Animals can be found in low-lying, swampy regions, humid tropical forest areas, or even in mountains at an altitude of 2000 – 2500 meters above sea level. They feel very comfortable in hilly areas, where there is a large amount of water that is vital to them.
Geographical regions of the Sumatran rhinoceros:
- Malay Peninsula;
Some scholars suggest that there is a rhinoceros population in Burma. However, to conduct research to prove or disprove this assumption does not allow the standard of living of the country. Rhinos are very fond of taking baths and swimming in mud swamps. They also like tropical wet forests with lots of low vegetation.
Their entire habitat is divided into squares, each of which belongs to a single individual or pair. Today, Sumatran rhinos are rare in their natural habitat. They are kept in the Cincinnati Zoo of America in Ohio, in the Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, Kerinsey Seblat, Gunung Loser.
What does the Sumatran rhinoceros eat?
The basis of the rhinoceros diet is plant foods. One adult requires 50-70 kilograms of greens per day, depending on body weight. These animals are most active towards morning, at dawn, or towards the end of the day, with the onset of dusk, when they go out in search of food.
What is the food base of the Sumatran rhinoceros:
- young sprouts;
- shoots of shrubs, trees;
- green grass;
- tree bark;
The diet of an animal can include up to 100 types of vegetation. The bulk are euphorbiaceae, madder, melastoma. Rhinos are very fond of young seedlings of various trees and shrubs, the diameter of which is from 2 to 5 centimeters. Foliage is also a favorite delicacy. To get it, sometimes herbivores have to lean on the tree with their whole mass to get and pluck the leaves.
Due to the fact that some types of vegetation necessary for the life and existence of animals in certain regions grow in very small quantities, animals either change their diet or move to other regions in search of food. In order for such a large animal to exist normally, a sufficient amount of fiber and protein is needed.
Salt is vital for these animals. That is why they require salt licks or water sources with enough salt. Not the last place in the diet is occupied by types of vegetation that saturate the animal’s body with various minerals.
Peculiarities of character and lifestyle
Sumatran rhinos tend to be solitary. Often animals live alone, less often in pairs. Often you can meet adult females with cubs. By nature, these herbivores are quite good-natured and calm, although very shy and cautious. From birth, animals have poorly developed eyesight.
Despite this and impressive dimensions, they are quite frisky and fast animals. They easily make their way through forest thickets, run quite quickly, move through the mountains and hilly areas, and even know how to swim. The habitat of rhinos is conditionally divided into certain zones that belong to individual individuals or pairs. Each marks his territory with excrement and scraping the ground with his hooves. On average, the habitat of one male individual reaches 40-50 square meters. kilometers, and women’s no more than 25.
In dry weather, animals prefer to stay in the lowlands, with the onset of the rainy season they rise to the mountains. In the daytime, rhinos are inactive. They prefer to hide in the forest thicket. With the onset of dusk and before dawn, the maximum activity of herbivores is noted, since it is at this time of day that they go in search of food. Sumatran rhinos, like any other, are very fond of taking mud baths. Some individuals can spend up to a third of the day on this procedure. Mud baths protect the body of the animal from insects and help to easily endure the summer heat.
Often, rhinoceroses dig holes for themselves for mud baths near resting places. In relation to their relatives, rhinos rarely show aggression. If necessary, to defend their territory, they can sometimes fight, bite.
Social structure and reproduction
The period of puberty occurs in females upon reaching 5-7 years. Males become sexually mature a little later – at the age of 9-10 years. One sexually mature female can give birth to no more than one cub. Childbirth occurs no more than once every 4-6 years. It is noteworthy that reproduction is carried out in natural conditions. They rarely breed in captivity. In the entire history of existence, only a few cases of the birth of cubs have been described.
Females that are ready to mate begin to spray their urine around with the help of their tail. As soon as the males catch her scent, they follow her trail. During this period, they tend to show anger and aggression, and it is better not to get in their way. When individuals of opposite sexes meet, they make loud noises. Animals can sniff each other for a long time and touch their sides with horns. In some cases, animals can inflict serious blows on each other.
Pregnancy lasts 15-16 months. The mass of a newborn cub is 20-30 kilograms. Height at the withers does not exceed 65 centimeters. The baby does not have horns, instead he has a bump, the size of which is 2-3 centimeters. The newborn is completely covered with a dark hairline, which gradually brightens and rolls out as it grows. It is noteworthy that babies are born into the world quite strong and after half an hour they can confidently stand on their feet. After an hour and a half, he will be able to run.
After the rhinoceros cub runs in order to comprehend the world around it, it hurries to get enough of its mother’s milk. Cubs begin to eat vegetable food a month after birth. By the year, a newborn rhinoceros reaches 400-500 kilograms. The female continues to feed her cub with mother’s milk up to one and a half years.
Natural enemies of the Sumatran rhinoceros
Despite the fact that Sumatran rhinos are the smallest of all, they are very strong and powerful animals. In this regard, in its natural habitat, it has practically no enemies among the representatives of the animal world. However, there are situations when hunger and extreme need force other predators to hunt even a rhinoceros.
Natural enemies of the Sumatran rhinoceros:
- Nile or saltwater crocodiles.
Carnivorous predators can only defeat a weakened animal that is exhausted or sick, or if there are a large number of predators. Another problem is blood-sucking insects. They are carriers and pathogens of many diseases.
Many rhinos are affected by helminths, which contribute to the weakening of the body. Man is considered the main enemy of man. It was his activities that led to the fact that this species was on the verge of extinction. Hunters and poachers continue to destroy animals even today, despite the fact that they live far from human habitats, as well as the difficulty of finding them.
Ever since almost two thousand years ago, a famous Chinese doctor managed to to prove that the powdered horn has a healing effect and relieves pain, lowers the temperature, people endlessly kill animals.
Population and species status
Today, the Sumatran rhinoceros is listed in the Red Book. It has been given the status of being on the verge of extinction. Zoologists say that no more than two hundred of these animals remain in the world today. The main reason for this situation is poaching. This is facilitated by the ever-increasing prices for animal body parts.
They started killing rhinoceros because of its horns. Subsequently, other parts of his body began to be of value, as miraculous properties were attributed to them. The Chinese, for example, firmly believe that the horn, powdered, increases potency and prolongs youth. Animal meat is used in many countries as a raw material for the manufacture of drugs against diarrhea, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases.
Interesting fact: The largest number of animals were destroyed during the last century, as people became active use of firearms. On the black market, an animal’s horn is valued at between $45,000 and $60,000
Zoologists say that another reason for the extinction of the species is the rapid, rapidly developing agriculture. In this regard, they attracted more and more territory and areas, which were the natural habitat of the Sumatran rhinoceros. Animals were forced to look for new territories that could be used for housing.
This explains the great remoteness of individual individuals from each other. The situation is further complicated by the fact that animals do not breed under artificial conditions and give birth no more than once every five years and give birth to no more than one cub.
Sumatran rhinoceros conservation
In order to protect animals from complete extinction, the authorities of the regions where animals live have banned hunting for them at the legislative level. At the same time, it should be noted that in some countries hunting for a rhinoceros is prohibited, but trade in organs and other parts of the body of a herbivore is allowed.
Animal welfare organizations hold summits aimed at protecting the natural habitat of animals. Scientists recommend stopping deforestation and encroachment on the natural habitat of the Sumatran rhinoceros. In America, several individuals are kept in national parks, but the difficulty lies in the fact that animals do not give birth in captivity. All attempts to find a park for rhinos and create optimal conditions for their reproduction were unsuccessful.
Zoologists say that if the problem is not solved at the level of the authorities, then this species may soon disappear completely. Scientists argue that it is necessary to try to stop the trade in animal organs and body parts, as well as not to use them in the pharmaceutical industry and cosmetology. Today, there are many alternatives that can be used to replace parts of the rhinoceros with synthetic substances.
The Sumatran rhinoceros is a rare, but majestic and beautiful animal. It is almost impossible to see it in its natural habitat today, since the surviving individuals live very far from human settlements and civilization. That is why it is necessary to try to solve the problem by all available means.