Monday, March 3, 2014

Sumatran Rhinoceros

Today let's learn about the Sumatran Rhinoceros, a very unusual mammal that is also in grave danger of extinction.

Sumatran Rhinos are the smallest Rhino species. They are also the only Rhinos to be covered in bristly hairs from head to toe. The hair helps them out in their muggy, insect-filled rainforest habitats-- mud sticks to the hair, and the caked on dirt keeps bug bites away!

Dicerorhinus sumatrensis
Sumatran Rhinos also have very small horns, especially when compared to those of their African cousins. Sadly, the small size is not enough to keep poachers away-- these Rhinos have been ruthlessly hunted to the point of near extinction.

Today, there are less than 400 Sumatran Rhinos in the entire world, including thsoe kept in captivity. They don't breed well in captivity either, which makes repopulating the species an uphill climb. A calf born at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2001 was the first captive birth in 100 years!

Poaching isn't the only threat to the species. Habitat loss has also played a massive role. The Sumatran Rhinos are very secretive and solitary animals, and the dense forests of Southeast Asia have been disappearing due to human encroachment and agriculture. Once upon a time you could find these guys in Thailand, India, Cambodia, and parts of China. Today they are restricted to a few fragmented groups on Borneo, Sumatra, and on the tip of the Malay Penninsula.

IUCN Status : Critically Endangered
Location : Southeast Asia
Size : Height up to 4.5ft (1.4m), Weight up to 1,800lbs (800kg)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Perissodactyla
Family : Rhinocerotidae -- Genus : Dicerorhinus -- Species : D. sumatrensis
Image : 26Isabella, Ltshears

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