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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

Did You Know? Incredible Sumatran Rhinoceros Facts

Sumatran rhinoceros facts will encourage kids to learn about these critically endangered species

The Sumatran rhino is the smallest species of rhinos presently inhabiting the earth. Also known as the Asian two-horned rhino, this rhino species is only about  250 cm long and shares the endangered tag along with its Asian cousin the Javan rhino.

This Asian rhino species with its long hair is the hairiest of all rhinoceros species and is characterized by fringed ears and unique skin folds. There are two prominent skin folds - one that encircles the body behind the front legs and before the hind legs and the other thinner fold just around the neck region and at the base of the legs.

Once roaming the foothills of the Himalayas in Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Malaysia and Thailand, the Sumatran rhinoceros' habitat has shrunk to the islands of Indonesia. The rhino horn has contributed to its extinction as has largescale human activities that have snatched their lodgings. Also owing to its small size as compared to the African black and white rhinos they fall easier prey to the big cats.

Want to know more about the Sumatran rhino? Then read on!

If you like what you are reading and want to know more about different animals then you can check out buffalos and the Javan rhinoceros.

Sumatran Rhinoceros Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Sumatran Rhinoceros?

The Sumatran rhino is a sub-species of rhino and a herbivore. It is a close kin of the now extinct subspecies of rhinos, wooly rhinos. They are one of the five rhinoceros species found all over the world although they are much smaller than their African counterparts.

What class of animal does a Sumatran Rhinoceros belong to?

Dicerorhinus Sumatrensis is a mammal and belongs to the order Perissodactyla.

How many Sumatran Rhinos are there in the world?

According to the World Wildlife Fund, there are fewer than 80 Sumatran Rhinos living although certain reports suggest the number of this Asian rhino population may be well below 30. The Sumatran rhino species is perhaps the most endangered mammal in the world as it has found its way to the critically endangered species list of IUCN.

Where does a Sumatran Rhinoceros live?

The Sumatran rhino lives in the dense highland and lowland tropical rainforests, swamps (both coastal and freshwater), the sea, near river basins, and cloud forests.

What is a Sumatran Rhino's habitat?

The current habitat of the Sumatran rhinos has narrowed down to the Indonesian island of Sumatra and Borneo. They have become almost extinct in the wild, and habitat loss and fragmentation has restricted their population to the protected areas only under close observation in the subtropical forests and Bukit Barisan, Gunung Leuser, Way Kambas national parks.

Who do Sumatran Rhinos live with?

The wild Sumatran rhino is a solitary animal, preferring to live alone and only coming to live with another for mating purposes and for offspring-rearing. This critically endangered rhino species have excellent auditory and olfactory senses which aid it in protecting itself from predators. The rhinos are extremely careful about marking their territory with feces, urine, and twisting trees in a specific way in order to leave a trail of a scented network in order to attract a mate.

How long does a Sumatran Rhinoceros live?

The average lifespan of the Sumatran rhino is 35-40 years in the wild. Some reports suggest that the longest living Sumatran rhino was 45 years old!

How do they reproduce?

The non-viability of the Sumatran rhinos makes it all the more difficult for them to find each other and breed. The average Sumatran female gives birth to a single calf after a long gestation period of 15-16 months. The females, hence, give birth to only one calf in three years. The female Sumatran can develop cysts ad fibroids if it goes without mating for too long and ends up being infertile which only adds to the concern of their ever-dwindling numbers.

What is their conservation status?

This rhino population is almost on the verge of extinction owing to its dwindling numbers due to habitat loss, fragmentation and poaching activities (mainly for their horn). It has been declared Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. The IUCN in 1986 estimated their population roughly to be between 425 and 800. However, the preset number has come down to 80. The National Geographic Society along with other conservation organizations has joined hands with the Indonesian Government to conserve the dying rhino species and bring back the population from the brink of extinction. The Sumatran Rhino Rescue Society is working on capturing rhinos from the wild and relocating them to various Indonesian national parks, including Way Kambas, for captive breeding. Despite the efforts, only two captive female rhinos have reproduced in the last decade.

Sumatran Rhinoceros Fun Facts

What do Sumatran Rhinos look like?

The Asian two-horned Sumatran rhino is a rare sight.

The Sumatran rhino has a dark reddish-brown hide covered with long hair which turns bristly, sparse and blackish with age. The distinguishing feature that sets the Sumatran rhinos apart from their other Asian cousin, the Javan rhino, is the presence of two horns on its snout. The only other rhino species with this feature is the African rhino. The front horn is larger than the posterior horn and may grow up to 31 inches while the latter only grows into a knob of about three inches.  

How cute are they?

The Sumatran rhinos may not be classified as 'cute' but the calves do look adorable running around on their stubby little legs.

How do they communicate?

The Sumatran rhino is the most vocal among the rhino populations all over the world. They whine, whistle and whale around much like the elephants and they can be heard up to a distance of about nine km. Other communication methods commonly used by this species are - kicking around their dung and twisting uneaten saplings.

How big is a Sumatran Rhinoceros?

An adult Sumatran rhino reaches up to a height of 4.75ft (145 cm) and a length of about 8ft(250 cm ) as compared to their African kin who stand taller.

How fast can a Sumatran Rhinoceros move?

Considering their bulky figure the Sumatran rhino is pretty fast on its legs and is a strong swimmer and very adept at climbing steep slopes.

How much does a Sumatran Rhinoceros weigh?

Sumatran rhinos weigh about 500 kg-800 kg (1100 lb-1600 lb) which is approximately one quarter the size of white rhinos, the largest living species of rhino, which weigh about  5070 lb (2300 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

Male rhinos are called 'bulls' while female rhinos are called 'cows'.

What would you call a baby Sumatran Rhinoceros?

A baby Sumatran rhino is called a 'calf'.

What do they eat?

Being primarily herbivores, Sumatran rhinos live on grass, shrubs, berries, roots, with their favorite foods being figs, wild mangos, bamboos, and salt licks which they seek out each month to meet their mineral requirements.

Are they dangerous?

Needless to say, like the other species of rhino, the Sumatran rhino is quite aggressive and likes to live in dense lowland tropical and subtropical forests eluding all forms of company, even with members of its own group. They are extremely territorial and can turn quite violent if they sense foreign intrusion within their territory.

Would they make a good pet?

Sumatran rhinos cannot be kept as pets owing to their solitary nature and aggressive attitude.

Did you know...

Here are some fun facts about the Sumatran rhinoceros!

Sumatran rhino is considered the most 'primitive' species of rhinoceros because of its hairy hide and other prehistoric characteristics which tie it to the Wooly rhinos which wandered the earth during the Ice Age.

Like other subspecies, this species too spends a large part of the day wallowing in muddy water and swamps for thermo-regulation (regulating body temperature) and to protect itself from ectoparasites (parasites that live on the body surface of hosts) and biting insects.

The rhino horn is much sought after for its medicinal value especially in traditional Chinese medicine.

After four decades of dry spells, a specimen of this population was sighted, captured and relocated to Borneo island of Indonesia.

This species has been declared extinct in Malaysia in 2019.

The male of this species has a large territory, almost 50 sq km, while the female has about 19 sq km of area which also contributes to mating issues.

They have long dagger-shaped lower incisors which are very sharp and are used during fights to inflict deep wounds.

They have been observed crossing rivers deeper than 4.9 ft (1.5 m) and almost 160 ft (50m) wide.

The calf stays with the mother for about two years until weaning takes place.

Is the Sumatran Rhinoceros endangered?

The Sumatran rhinos are almost extinct in the wild with experts fearing only about 30 living in the Indonesian islands. The International Rhino Foundation along with other conservation organizations continues to put all efforts to protect the dwindling numbers from illegal poachers who continue to hunt them for the rhino horn and bushmeat and skin.

Unique features of the Sumatran Rhinoceros

The most unique feature of this population is the horn which is made up of keratin (a protein that also makes up our hair and nails) and is extremely hard, which also is the reason for their downfall.

The horn is used for digging pits, breaking through dense forest vegetation, protecting the head but interestingly not for fighting. And if broken, it will regrow.

Young Sumatran males are often very aggressive and can end up killing their mates during courtship.

Salt licks are important assets of Sumatran's territory which materialize within hot springs and mud volcanos. Each rhino has its own specific haunt that it visits once in two months.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including the tamandua and the elephant shrew.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our sumatran rhinoceros coloring pages.

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