Dicerorhinus – Sumatran rhinoceros

The only Asian rhino with two horns is the world's smallest rhino

The Sumatran rhinoceros is a unique and fascinating species within the rhinoceros family, distinguished by several characteristics not seen in its African or other Asian counterparts. This rhinoceros species is notable for its long, coarse hair, which gives it a distinct reddish-brown appearance, making it the most hairy of all rhinoceros species. As these animals age, their hair tends to become sparser, leading to older individuals having less hair coverage.

One of the most distinctive features of the Sumatran rhino is its two horns, a rarity among Asian rhinoceroses, which typically possess a single horn. The front horn is the larger of the two, measuring between 15 and 25 centimeters (6 to 10 inches) in length, while the smaller posterior horn rarely exceeds 10 centimeters (about 4 inches). These horns, composed of keratin (the same material that makes up human hair and nails), are dark grey or black in color and play a significant role in the rhino’s interactions with its environment and other rhinos.

Currently, the Sumatran rhino is classified as Critically Endangered, facing a dire struggle for survival. The species suffers primarily from habitat loss and fragmentation and the consequences of human activities such as logging, agriculture, and infrastructure development. These environmental pressures have confined the remaining population to increasingly isolated patches of forest in the islands of Sumatra and Borneo in Indonesia. The fragmentation of their habitat severely limits their chances of finding mates, contributing to their alarmingly low reproductive rates.

The plight of the Sumatran rhino underscores a broader crisis in biodiversity, as this species is among the most ancient of all living mammals. With estimates suggesting fewer than 80 individuals remain in the wild, the survival of the Sumatran Rhino hangs in a precarious balance. Conservation efforts, both in situ (within their natural habitat) and ex-situ (in captivity), are vital to prevent the extinction of this irreplaceable species.