The Sumatran rhino is one of the most endangered animals on the planet. This elusive creature is the smallest of the five living species of rhinoceros and is only found in a few locations in Sumatra, Borneo, and possibly Malaysia.
Scientific & Common Names
Kingdom - Animalia
Phylum - Chordata
Class - Mammalia
Order – Perissodactyla
Family – Rhinocerotidae
Genus - Dicerorhinus
Species – D. sumatrensis
Common Name – Sumatran Rhinoceros, Hairy Rhino, Asian Two-Horned Rhinoceros
The smallest of the modern rhinos, the Sumatran rhinoceros reaches lengths of just over 10 feet. While some captive animals can weigh as much as 4,000 lbs., typically in the wild they weigh less than half that much. Like the two African rhinoceros species, this rhino has two horns on its nose instead of a single horn like the Indian rhinoceros.
One of the most distinctive features of this rhino is its reddish-brown fur coat, which gives is a shaggy appearance that most other rhinoceros species lack. While in the wild it is less noticeable due to the Sumatran rhino’s habit of wallowing in mud, it is quite prevalent in captive animals
Gestation lasts about 14-15 months, and the young (usually a single calf) will stay with the mother for two to three years before going off on its own. Little is known about the breeding and mating habits of these rhinos in the wild, and most current information is gleaned from captive animals.
These animals are solitary by nature, and prefer a large territory in which to forage. Some rhinos can claim a space of up to 20 square miles as their own. They live in swamps and rainforests where they are quite agile despite their size, and can easily climb mountains, steep riverbanks and other difficult terrain.
The Sumatran rhino frequently engages in wallowing behavior, caking mud on its body to keep it cool and protect its vulnerable hide from parasites and irritating insects.
The Sumatran rhinoceros historically ranged throughout Southeast Asia, and could be found in Thailand, Bhutan, Myanmar, China, Bangladesh, Laos, India and Indonesia. Today it is restricted to four or five small population pockets mainly in Borneo and Sumatra.
The closest relative of the Sumatran rhino is the woolly rhinoceros (Coelodonta antiquitatis), which went extinct 10,000 years ago. Like the Sumatran, the woolly rhino had a coat of fur and was found in Asia.
The Sumatran rhino was not well understood or widely known in the world until the first real footage of the animal was captured by cameras in 2006.
These rhinos are extremely critically endangered, and it is believed that there may be less than 100 left in the wild. These creatures face habitat loss and poaching, and have become extinct in much of their historic range. Currently there are four to five small populations; the Malaysian population may have recently become extinct.
Illegal logging is destroying the Sumatran rhino’s rainforest habitat, while poachers target the animal directly in order to collect its horn, meat, and other parts that are used in traditional treatments for a variety of ailments in some cultures.