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Indian Rhino: Is This Animal Endangered?

Indian rhinos, or the Greater one-horned rhinos, are the second-largest Asian rhinos in the world. They are beautiful creatures and are sadly vulnerable. There are many reasons for this, but we can all do our part to help save this amazing animal.

  • Status: Vulnerable 
  • Known as: Indian Rhino, Indian One-horned Rhino, Asian one-horned rhinoceros, or greater one-horned rhinoceros.
  • Estimated numbers left in the wild: Approximately 2,600.

These rhino species are classified as vulnerable, with five subspecies categorized as other rhinos. The Rhino population is declining due to poaching and habitat loss. Indian Rhino population has decreased by at least 80% since 1940, according to the Indian government.


Indian Rhinos (rhinoceros unicornis) are the second-largest rhino species in the world. These fascinating animals are endangered and at risk of becoming extinct. There are many reasons for this, but we can all do our part to help save this amazing animal.

These rhino species are categorized as endangered. There are only about 3000 left in the world today. They are mainly nocturnal but can be active during the day or night, depending on their surroundings and what they are doing.

These rhinos are predominantly solitary animals, interacting only during breeding or between mother and young. However, the rhinos will tolerate one another at water holes, and passage through overlapping territories is not disputed between males except when the females are receptive.

See Related: African Elephant

Anatomy and Appearance

indian rhino in its natural habitat on ourendangeredworld

These rhino species are the second largest in the world and can weigh up to two thousand pounds. They have a gray or light brown coloration, and their skin is very thick. Rhinos have two horns on their head and hairy upper lip. They are very strong creatures and can run up to thirty-five miles per hour.

They are a large, sturdy beast possessing armor-like skin. These rhinos can weigh up to 2,700 kilograms and are typically 3 to 3.8 meters long; their shoulder height is between 160 and 190. The rhinoceros has only one horn that is 20 to 60 centimeters long and is composed of compressed hair.

The rhino’s skin hangs in folds and plates, offering excellent protection against predators. However, it is also more flexible than thought – elastic skin between the plates allows freedom of movement. Although no one could accuse these rhinos of being beautiful, it has majesty in their very homeliness.

The bulky form of the Indian rhino is deceptive, too, for this animal can run at nearly 50 km an hour and turn quickly at speed and jump. Like their African cousins, these rhinos are extremely near-sighted and rely upon their superior senses of smell and hearing to detect intruders.

Indian rhino horns are made of keratin, like human fingernails. Their horns make them the target of poachers, who sell their horns for a high price.

They are hunted for their horns by poaching groups at Royal Chitwan National Park that sell the horn to other regions in the world where they are used for various medical purposes even though they have no medicinal benefit.

These rhino species horns can grow as much as three feet long and just like fingernails, rhinos are able to grow new sections of their horn. Their tails also have a small, hair-like structure on the end of it but they do not have many uses for it. These rhinos use their horns and tail during mating rituals to attract females.


Waterway surrounded by forest
kazuend / Unsplash

The range of the greater one-horned rhino is a mere remnant of its former extent. Previously common through the northern part of the Indian subcontinent, from Pakistan to China, the greater one-horned rhino is now found only in small areas of India and Nepal. Although an attempt was made to reintroduce the rhino to Pakistan, the effort failed and has not been repeated.

See Related: World’s Largest National Parks

Indian Rhino Habitat

Beautiful forest lake surrounded with coniferous trees
Kseniya Abramova / Adobe Stock

Indian rhinos used to thrive in many different habitats, but now rhinos reside in a few select areas. These areas are mostly grasslands adjacent to rivers or other bodies of water.

These rhino species prefer to travel along pathways through the grasslands, and where the grass is tall enough will make tunnels. They also enjoy forestland or lands bordering agriculture if needed.

Indian Rhino Diet and Nutrition

Black Rhino resting in captivity
Chris Ison / Adobe Stock

The greater one-horned rhino is primarily a crepuscular grazing animal, enjoying grasses and leaves. These rhinos enjoy the water and feed also on aquatic plants.

They prefer grasslands adjacent to rivers or other bodies of water but will also use forestland or lands bordering agriculture if needed. The rhinos prefer to travel along pathways through the grasslands, and where the grass is tall enough, they will make tunnels.

Indian Rhino Mating Habits

These rhino species are solitary animals for the most part, but during mating season, adult rhinos will congregate in groups of up to ten individuals.

The female will typically initiate mating by chasing off the males and selecting the one she wants. Indian rhino mating usually lasts less than five minutes; the male will usually leave the group after breeding.

They go through three stages of life- infancy, youth, and adulthood. Newborns greater than one-horned rhinos weigh around 100 pounds and can stand and walk within hours of being born.

They nurse for about a year and eat grasses and other vegetation when they are six months old. When great Indian rhinoceros are between the ages of five and six, they reach adulthood. They can live to be about 50 years old, but their life expectancy is much lower in the wild due to poaching for their horn.

Greater one-horned rhino is important to the ecosystems they live in because they help to disperse seeds and eat grasses that can overgrow and choke out other plants.

They also play an important role in keeping the populations of other animals in check by preying on them. These gentle giants are an important part of the global ecosystem.

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Relationship With Humans 

multiracial human come to build hands in shape of heart to protect the environment

The Indian rhino has a complicated relationship with humans. On one hand, they are heavily hunted and poached for their horns, which are believed to have medicinal properties. On the other hand, some Indian villages rely on the greater one-horned rhino for their livelihoods, as the animals are sometimes used as working animals.

Indian Rhino Facts

Here are the interesting facts you need to know about Indian rhinos.

  • There are three Indian Rhino species- the Indian rhinoceros, the greater one-horned Indian rhinoceros, and the Sumatran Indian rhinoceros.
  • The Indian rhinoceros is the largest of the three in Nepal and India.
  • They weigh between 2,000 and 3,500 pounds and stand at 5-6 feet tall.
  • They have two horns on their head and are gray or black.
  • The greater one-horned rhino is found in Nepal and Assam, India.
  • They weigh 1,500 and 2,000 pounds and stand 4-5 feet tall.
  • They have one horn on their head and are light brown or gray.
  • The Indian rhinoceros is smaller than the other two Indian Rhino species and is found in Assam, India.

Conservation Status

The Indian rhino is vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Greater one-horned rhinos are threatened by poaching and habitat loss. Only about 3,500 Indian rhinos remain in the wild, and their numbers are declining.


Man holding gun walking in the forest

At the beginning of the 20th Century, the Indian rhino was nearly extinct, with only 200 beasts left. They had been hunted nearly to the last rhino for their horns, which are covered in Chinese and Vietnamese medicine for their supposed curative powers.

Habitat loss and human-wildlife conflict through expanding agriculture also restricted the range of the rhinos.

The illegal trade in horns also threatens the Indian rhino. Rhino horns are valuable for their use in traditional Chinese medicine, and a single horn can sell for tens of thousands of dollars.

Aggressive conservation measures helped the Indian rhino to restore its numbers to some degree. Still, an upsurge in demand for traditional medicines, especially in Vietnam, has caused poachers to begin hunting the rhinos again. In addition to being used in medicines, the horn is also used to make buttons, knife handles, and other decorative items.

Besides habitat destruction, alien plant forms in traditional rhino feeding grounds seem to have restricted the amount of food available. This appears to influence how often the cows produce a calf directly.

See Related: Endangered vs. Threatened vs. Extinct Species

Conservation efforts


The governments of both India and Nepal are involved in conserving the existing Rhino population. Various NGOs are also taking part in this effort.

There is an attempt to extend protected areas and a program to remove weeds and plants the rhinos cannot eat to expand their normal food supply. Rangers in the parks are aggressive in fighting poachers.

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Go green, business meeting and people on tablet screen for sustainable project, eco friendly investment and growth. Paperless or vegan presentation, sustainability and man speaker speaking to clients
M Bam/ / Adobe Stock

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation is a charity set up by the world-renowned wildlife artist David Shepherd.

The charity’s primary aim is to help threatened wildlife throughout the world. This is done in a number of ways, including providing support to projects that protect and conserve wildlife, as well as working to raise awareness of the plight of endangered species.

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation sells artwork to fund breeding programs, anti-poaching projects, fieldwork, and education programs to protect species worldwide, including the greater one-horned rhino.

Save the Rhino

Save the Rhino works with local partners in Asia and Africa to protect the five different rhino species. They support anti-poaching activities, monitoring, environmental education, community conservation, translocations, and captive breeding.

Save the Rhino is an international rhino foundation, a global charity that focuses on the conservation of rhinos.

They work in countries where rhinos live to protect them from extinction. They do fundraising, campaigning, educating people about the importance of rhinos, and working with governments and other organizations to save rhinos.

World Wildlife Fund

The World Wildlife Fund has worked extensively with Kaziranga National Park and Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary to help conserve the greater one-horned rhinoceros.

The goal is to help increase the rhino population of the greater one-horned rhinoceros and protect them from becoming extinct. These parks are crucial in protecting the rhinos, and they provide a haven for these animals. The World Wildlife Fund has been able to do a lot of good work in these parks, but there is still more to be done.

Final Thoughts

Indian rhinos are the second largest rhino species in the world and are beautiful creatures. Sadly, they are vulnerable due to poaching for their horns which is used in traditional Chinese medicine. Greater one-horned rhinos have been hunted nearly to extinction at one point because of this demand for rhino horn.

Conservation efforts involve aggressive actions against poachers, restoring protected areas where Indian Rhinos live, removing invasive plant life from Indian Rhino feeding grounds so they can thrive more readily, and various other tactics such as translocation and captive breeding programs.

Organizations like Save The Rhino work with local partners on a global level to provide education about how important it is to protect these animals while also providing support services through fundraising campaigns or fieldwork assistance.

Ultimately, the Indian rhino species are vulnerable, but with the help of organizations and governments, it has a chance to be brought back from extinction. They are very amazing creatures and we need to save them so they can continue to live on this planet!


Is Indian Rhino endangered?

As Indian rhinos wander the earth today, their population is critically low and they are categorized as a vulnerable species.

How many of these animals still exist in the world?

There are only about 2,500 left in the wild, and their numbers continue to decline. The main threats to their survival are poaching and habitat loss.

What is poachers’ primary motive for killing Indian Rhinos?

Poachers kill Indian rhinos for their horns. They have two horns that grow from the front of their heads and are made from a unique material called keratin, the same substance that is found in hair and nails.

As a result, poachers can remove one horn without disturbing the other because rhinos typically only need one to survive.

The horns are used as decoration or for personal use by high-rolling gamblers during ancient Asian gambling competitions such as those practiced in China’s Macau SAR province. This species horn was also seen as an aphrodisiac potion by those participating in these competitions.

In Vietnam, it is believed that Indian Rhino animals’ horns can cure cancer, even though there is not a shred of evidence to support this claim. Horns are also used as dagger handles and rhinoceros horns can cost up to $75,000 for a 3-kilogram (6.5 pounds).

Are Indian rhinoceros still endangered?

The Indian rhinoceros is still endangered. Despite conservation efforts, their population is still at risk due to habitat loss and poaching. As of 2021, there are an estimated 3,500 Indian rhinoceros remaining in the wild, with the majority located in India and Nepal.

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