Rhinoceros is a plant, and not a deer. Though it lacks antlers, it is always part of a herd of deer. Although there are two kinds of rhinos, they are not deer. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t get a deer’s-eye view of a rhino.
The remains of the last of the six prehistoric species of rhinoceros have been discovered in Zagros Mountains in Iran. South African scientists have been busy unearthing the skeletons of two dwarf rhinos, estimated to be from 65,000 to 120,000 years old, from the Paleolithic. It has been 20 years since the last of the last species of prehistoric rhino was found and three years since the last of the last living species was found. This implies that scientists are likely to find new fossils in the near future.
There is a lot of concern about how the rhinoceros will fare in the twenty-first century. Already, I know of five rhinoceros owners around the world, including my former colleague Bob, who have been killed by poachers, which causes some of the public to ask if a protected animal is worth the risk.
The Americanrhino Foundation, established in 1973, is a not-for-profit foundation dedicated to the conservation of rhinoceros. Founded by Dr. Ronald L. Stover, the Americanrhino Foundatin is committed to helping conserve the Asian and African rhinoceros in the wild. The goal is to provide the foundation for a stable population of Asian and African rhino by expanding the captive breeding population.
Agents of the Smithsonian Institution and the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (U.S.FWS) have begun monitoring the potential effects of the export of Chinese rhinoceros for commercial use in China. Black, the Asian rhinoceros most in danger, occur only in the Indian subcontinent and in parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The black rhino of South Africa and most wild animals in the West African and Central African range are of the Ceratotherium simum species, which has the same horn structure as the Asian rhino. India, which claims much of the remaining African habitat, bans the import of the Asian rhino for commercial use, but restricts its slaughter to Indian citizens.
The following pdf [also available on Google Docs] is a photograph from M.N. Dutta’s book, “The Forest of Tigers in Indian Memories,” of a rhinoceros carcass being taken from the forest in Bengal, India. This book was published in 1857, and the painting by Rudra Dutt of the rhino’s head and neck below, shows the head to be missing. There are no bull hooks on any of the rhino’s four legs, and this particular carcass had been lying for months, so the underside of the body is covered with maggots and flies. Rats are also seen eating from the carcass; such pests are likely to have killed the rhino. On the side of the road a roadside seller is selling a small dog to chew on one of the rhino’s horns.
In his book, Miramare, Bon Giono writes that the rhinoceros has suffered even greater losses than the elephant, since we do not know how many there were nor what happened to them. He describes how in the mid-1500’s the Dei campi were full of rhino horns, used for everything from crucifixes to lighting fires. They were a common part of the European economy.
Rhinoceros beetles are not easily identified. The species most often seen in North America is the European black rhinoceros beetle, which is black with red markings, green stripes, and/or a red-orange head. Other species seen in this country may be black or green. The Great Plains black rhinoceros beetle (Dermestes maculatus) has a black body and yellow or orange-colored spots on the first three or four segments of the abdomen. The eastern black rhinoceros beetle (Dermestes rhinoceros)is black with a black head and has orange or red patches on the sides of its thorax. The northern black rhinoceros beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis) has black markings on its head, thorax, and abdomen, and red or orange markings on the head and thorax, with a white spot on the crown. It may also have red markings on the sides of its thorax.