Sumatran Rhinoceros

Sumatran Rhinoceros

Grades

5 - 8

Subjects

Biology, Conservation, Ecology

Image

Sumatran Rhino

A Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) poses for a picture at the White Oak conservation center in Yulee, Florida.

Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark

About the Sumatran Rhinoceros

The two-horned Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) shares the bleak distinction of world’s most endangered rhino with its regional cousin, the Javan rhino. The smallest of the rhino family, the Sumatran rhinoceros lives in isolated pockets in the dense mountain forests of Indonesia.

Diet

Sumatran rhinos are generally solitary creatures that feed on fruits, twigs, leaves, and shrubs. Like other rhinos they have a keen sense of smell and sharp hearing, and they use these traits to distinguish their territories from rival rhinos.

Size and Hairy Hide

As the smallest rhino, they weigh about 798 kilograms (1,760 pounds), and grow to a height near 1.5 meters (5 feet) at the shoulders and 2.45 to 3.05 meters (8 to 10 feet) in length. Unlike most other rhinos, their hide, dark red-brown in color, is covered with patches of short, dark, stiff hair.

Rhino Horn and Trafficking

The Sumatran rhino’s two horns are considerably smaller than those of their African relatives, the black and white rhinos. The anterior horn may grow up to 79 centimeters (31 inches), but is normally much smaller, while the posterior horn may grow up to 7.5 centimeters (3 inches), but is generally no more than a hump.

The horns for which rhinos are so well known have been their downfall. Many animals have been killed for this hard growth, which is made of a hair-like substance and is revered for medicinal use in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. The horn is also valued in the Middle East, Yemen especially, and North Africa as an ornamental dagger handle.

Conservation

Listed as critically endangered, there are thought to be fewer than 100 Sumatran rhinos in existence today. While a number of these animals are kept in zoos, they rarely breed in captivity. The main threats to their survival in the wild include poaching and habitat encroachment by humans.

Media Credits

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Director
Tyson Brown, National Geographic Society
Author
National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Production Managers
Gina Borgia, National Geographic Society
Jeanna Sullivan, National Geographic Society
Program Specialists
Sarah Appleton, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Margot Willis, National Geographic Society
Specialist, Content Production
Clint Parks,
Producer
André Gabrielli, National Geographic Society
other
Last Updated

May 13, 2022

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