Indian Rhinoceros, also known as the great one-horned rhinoceros, is found in India and Nepal. It is one of the most endangered. It is among the five species of rhinoceros found in the world today. Two African species, the black and white rhino, the Sumatran rhino and the lesser one-horned rhino or the Javan rhino are the other surviving species.
The great one-horned rhino is next to the elephant in size among the largest land mammals, reaching up to a height of 2 meters at the shoulders and 4 meters in length and weight up to 2 tons.
The blackish grey skin has heavy fold, looking like armor plates and are studded with tubercles on shoulders, things and buttocks. It has a single horn (in both sexes) which develops from the skin in the region of the nose, and can grow up to 0.6 meters in length.
The horn is keratinous in composition, being a modification of the hair and has no medicinal or aphrodisiac properties, contrary to the commonly held belief. Large-scale poaching for the rhino horn because of the above misinformation has led to a decline in its population.
The Indian rhinoceros, which was once found right from the Indus valley to northern Burma, is now confined to the Brahmaputra valley in Assam two small reserves in West Bengal and in the Chitawan valley region of the Nepal terai. Of the total animals surviving today, a large number of them are found in the Kaziranga National Park and Nepal. Rhinos are solitary animals. They spend long periods of time wallowing in the water and feeding extensively on aquatic plants, grasses and shrubs.
Deforestation, habitat destruction, intrusion into their grazing grounds by large herds of cattle and domestic buffaloes and poaching rhinos for their horns have been largely responsible for their declining numbers. Strict measures for protection and efforts to reintroduce them in new localities where they once existed have raised hopes of their conservation.