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Mammals: White rhinoceros

Mammals: White rhinoceros


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Systematic classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Perissodactyla
suborder: Ceratomorpha
Family: Rhinocerotidae
Kind: Ceratotherium
Species: C. simum - Burchell, 1817

After the African Elephant (Loxodonta africana) and the Indian one (Elephas maximus), the white or snub rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum) is the largest terrestrial mammal.
Generally peaceful in nature, it proves to be much less aggressive than the Black Rhino (Diceros bicornis), except in the presence of predators such as humans, lions and hyenas, which can endanger their lives or that of puppies.
In these cases, to react, they would seem to take a run. Suddenly they run away for a few tens of meters in the opposite direction to the danger, they stop abruptly, and they leave towards the target with a furious charge.
They generally live in more stable families of the Black Rhino, made up of a minimum of 5–6 units (males, mother with offspring of various generations) to a maximum of 16 individuals, when they join other families with precise hierarchical schemes.
Although not entirely proven, it appears to be less promiscuous than the Diceros bicornis, and like this they live on average 50 years.
Another phenomenon, studied for several years, but little talked about, is that of the overlapping of the areas of rhinos and African elephants, even if they are mostly transitory encounters, given that the latter are much less permanent.
Such encounters can be unsuccessful, when everyone ignores the other, or provoke violent clashes, as often happens, if a nucleus of elephants (male, female and offspring) crosses an area occupied by a nucleus of rhinoceroses in which there is a dominant .
The violent clash of these two giants of the African savannahs and prairies often ends with the death of the rhino, because a Loxodonta africana quietly reaches 5-6 meters in height at the withers with a weight of 6-7 tons!
Some zoological biologists, such as Dr. W Kuhme, scholar of elephant ethology, have formulated the hypothesis that, like the variable numerical sequence of waving elephant ears, it represents not only a mechanism for the dispersion of body heat (especially of the head ) but also a language in which they express aggression or recognition of their partner and offspring, even in rhinos something similar happens.
It is believed, but not everyone agrees, that the number of times a rhinoceros lowers and raises its head, as well as the use of the greater horn for contact with offspring, are precise ethological codes for a pattern of signals.
Much more fragmented are the news on the biology of Asian rhinos (India, Borneo forests, Sumatra, Java Island) which are the hairy rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis), the Java Rhino (Rhinoceros sondicus) and the largest Indian Rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis).

White rhinoceros - Ceratotherium simum (photo http://silvervulpine.deviantart.com)

(photo www.wildphotons.co.uk)

Zoogeography

Southern, Eastern, Western Africa in the states of Kenya, Zimbabwe, Congo, Cameroon.

Habitat-Ecology

Grasslands, savannah

Morphophysiology

The white rhinoceros reaches a weight of 5 tons, for a length of up to 5 m and a height at the Garrese of 2 m.
It has an elongated and massive skull with a short and robust neck. Small lanceolate ears, small lateral eyes with eyelids. Weak vision (myopic), sense of smell developed like hearing, taste and touch.
It has a typically square upper lip, up to 20-25 cm wide, which is very useful for feeding, since it allows it to easily tear off the blades of grass it mainly feeds on.
It is used in Flehmen's response during mating by the male (with a curl upwards as a response of receptivity of the female in estrus) and by females for the recognition of the cub born, as indicated in the sheet Diceros bicornis.
The skin is thick, wrinkled with no particular creases that characterize it.
The color is light gray and not white (even the black rhinoceros is dark gray and not black) as the name says, which probably stems from an incorrect translation in the 19th century by the English of the Boer name "wijde" (pronounced: uàid), which means from the (upper) wide lip, incorrectly translated white (white).
The white rhinoceros has a pair of unequal keratinous horns. The larger one, which is located anteriorly, above the upper lip, can reach a meter and a half in length!
Also this species therefore smooths the horns on rocks, to try to limit their growth. Males are always larger than females.
The 2 species of African rhinos have heterodon toothing (many types of teeth with different morphology), with a strong regression or disappearance of the upper and lower incisors and canines. In the three Asian species that always have heterodontic dentition, there are both canines and incisors in the 2 mandibular arches.

Ethology-reproductive biology

Males have a genital organ, consisting of 2 internal testicles and a complete penis, facing backwards. The female is always characterized by monogeminal parts.
At birth, the baby can weigh up to 70 kg, it takes to walk independently a little longer than the fees belonging to the genus Diceros, about after a couple of hours of post natal life. They tend to suck milk up to 1-2 years of age.
The physiology of childbirth and the anatomy of the reproductive system is equivalent to that of Diceros bicornis.
Males reach sexual maturity around the fifth year of life, females around the third year. During the courtship of the female in estrus, which they recognize by tasting the sprayed urine, the males engage in violent struggles in the presence of competitors. They mark the territory with urine and feces, also bending shrubs, as optical signals.
They tend to feed in the less hot hours of sunset, late afternoon, sunrise.


Video: AFRICAN ELEPHANT VS WHITE RHINO - Which is stronger? (May 2022).


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