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SOS Rhino : Rhinowledge : Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions



Q: Can You Tell Me About Laws Governing Sales of Wildlife Products Through Internet Auction Sites?


  A: Answer From US Fish & Wildlife Service web site :

Sales of wildlife and wildlife products over the Internet, particularly through auction sites such as eBay, are an ever-increasing concern. There are various laws that apply to this type of commerce. The majority of auction sites have regulations posted for review, and internal controls are in place to screen items offered for sale. While most wildlife-related items that appear for sale on Internet sites are in compliance with Federal and State laws, items that are illegal to possess or sell nontheless find their way onto the web. Some vendors on these sites use language or logos that imply U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service endorsement of their offerings. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does not, and will not, endorse any of these businesses or individuals.

For explanation of Federal laws governing Internet sales of wildlife and wildlife products, or to report questionable items for sale on auction sites, please contact the Fish and Wildlife Service's Division of Law Enforcement.You can also check eBay's guidance on sales of wildlife products.


Q:What is rhino horn made of?


  A: Rhino horn is made of compacted hair and keratin (fingernail material).


Q: Why do some rhinos have square lips while others have pointed lips?


  A: The while rhinoceros in Africa is the species with the wide upper lip. It is the rhinoceros that spends much of its time grazing for which reason it has developed this wide lip to help in cutting off the sharp grass.

It also has far more muscles in the neck area, which are necessary to lift the heavy head because it has to lower the head for the grazing.

The hindhead of the skull is much larger than in other rhinos to give an attachment for the muscles.

The black rhinoceros in Africa is a browser and has a prehensile upper lip to find and cut off the browse on shrubs and trees. It has a far smaller head because is does not need all the muscles for lowering the head.


Q: What term is used to define a congregation (group) of rhinos?


  A: A study on the African white rhinoceros, which is probably more social than other species, gave the following definitions: An "aggregation" is a congregation of individuals in the same area, but the animals each go their own way after some time. A "group" is an association of animals who try to stay in each other's proximity.

These groups remain intact for at least a few hours. Groupings in which the individuals were seen together for a period of a month or longer are called "stable associations" (like mother and child), while animals together for shorter periods are "temporary associations".

Many modern writers refer to a congregation of rhinoceroses as a "crash". This is sometimes found in crosswords or quizzes. "Herd" would not be zoologically correct because rhinos do not stay in one group for long, they are "temporary associations".

Scientists still use "groups" for the rhinoceros and it is a correct term.



Q: Do rhinos really stomp out fires?


  A:There are quite a number of legends about the rhinoceros stamping out fire. The story seems to have been common in Malaysia and Burma.

This type of rhinoceros even had a special name in Malay, 'badak api', where badak means rhinoceros and api means fire. The animal would come when a fire is lit in the forest and stamp it out.

If there is or can be any truth in the legend, it would be hard to decide. Suffice it to say that there has been no sighting of this phenomenon in recent history.

Of course, the rhinoceros in South East Asia has become very rare is hardly ever met nowadays, as it keeps to the deep forest and high mountains.


Q:What are the reasons for the continual decreasing rhino population?


  A:  It is highly priced for its horn, which is supposed to have medicinal properties. This belief is very common in Far Eastern countries like China.

Its natural habitat is taken away by the growing human population. Land is converted for use in agriculture or roads, forests are still logged for hardwood.

Poaching is a very serious threat. It is also still intensifying.



Q: How far do rhinos usually travel in a day?


  A:In Africa, it is said that when food and water are abundant, rhinos have no incentive to travel, so they stay in their favored localities. Rhinos in Africa are said to have a home range of about 12 sq. km, which means they would not travel more than a few miles each day.


Q:In the dry season, how far will rhinos travel to seek water?


  A:  Asian rhinos do not have a major problem in obtaining water, and travel to find food or partners. In Africa during the dry season, depending on the sources of water, the range increases from 12 sq. km up to 20 sq. km. Rhinos don't need to drink everyday, and cycles of about six days have been recorded.
Does the rhinoceros have hair on its body?
  A:  All rhinoceros species have hairs at the end of the tail and on the fringes of the ear.  They also have eyelashes.  Only the Sumatran rhinoceros has visible body hairs, even to the extent that some animals were described as 'hairy rhinoceros'.  Most of this body hair disappears when the animal grows older.  In the other species of rhinoceros, there is no obvious presence of body hair.  Anatomically, the hair follicles are present, which means that hairs will develop but not show above the surface of the skin.
How thick is the skin of a rhinoceros?
  A:  In the thinnest parts, the skin of a rhinoceros is 18-20 mm thick.  In some parts, like the on the shoulders of the white rhinoceros, the skin will attain a thickness of a least 45 mm.
Is the rhinoceros an aggressive animal?
  A:  The rhinoceros will always be seen as an aggressive animal.  Its behaviour when approached by men will vary, but can often be interpreted as aggression. When left alone, the rhino will rarely attack on its own accord.
Do rhinos have teeth?
  A:  All rhinos, those from Asia as well as Africa, have teeth in the sides of their jaws, called premolars and molars.  The Asian species of rhinoceros also show well-developed front teeth.  In fact, the incisors of the Indian Rhinoceros are its main means of defence, much more dangerous than the horn on the nose.
Why do rhinos have horns?
  A:  The horns are very well developed in the two species in Africa (black and white rhinos), but much smaller in the three species in Asia (Sumatran with 2 very small horns, Indian and Javan with one horn).  The Asian species certainly do not use the horns to fight or to defend themselves, they use their incisors (sharp front teeth for the purpose). The horns have come about in evolution and they had (have) a general function to impress members of the opposite sex.  Horns are also used for digging in waterbeds to find water, or to uproot shrubs etc.  Some rhinos use the horn to guide their offspring.  This is generally the front horn, the second horn does not have a very specific purpose at the moment.  We suppose that they had some purpose in the course of evolution.



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