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White rhino at Lake Nakuru, KenyaWhite rhino at Lake Nakuru, Kenya A rhinoceros is a large mammal with three toes on each foot. It is an ungulate, a group of herbivorous mammals with hooves. Rhinos like to be near water to keep cool, and roll in the mud to protect their skin from biting insects. There are five species: the black and white African rhinos and the Indian, Sumatran and Javan rhinos. Rhinos have one or two horns on their snout. The horns are made of keratin, the same substance that makes up hair and fingernails. Both African species and the Sumatran rhinos have two horns, while the Indian and Javan have a single horn. All but the white African are in danger of extinction because of poaching for their horns. They are sold to people who grind them up and offer them for sale as medicines

Black rhinocerosBlack rhinoceros
Black rhinoceros with calfBlack rhinoceros with calf

Raising young

A rhinoceros calf can be on its feet when it is just hours old, but will stay with its mother for up to three years. A rhinoceros mother and calf form a tight bond. A mother will defend her calf fiercely should danger approach.

White (left) and black (right) rhino lips comparedWhite (left) and black (right) rhino lips compared

Black and white

The two kinds of African rhinoceros, known as the black and the white rhinoceros, are actually both grey. The black rhino has a hooked lip for pulling at woody plants, thorny bushes, leaves and fruit, while the white has broad lips for grazing grass. The word "white" is thought to be from the Afrikaans word wyd, meaning wide—referring to its broad, square lips. Both kinds have two horns, the front one being the largest.

Far from being gentle herbivores, both white and black rhinos have a keen sense of smell and will charge at anything they perceive to be a threat—including other rhinos.

Oxpeckers are birds that perch on the backs of rhinos and other savanna herbivores. They remove ticks and other parasites from the rhinos' skin.

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