Greater one-horned Asian rhinoceros | WWF

Greater one-horned Asian rhinoceros

Did you know?

  • The name rhinoceros comes from the Greek words for "nose-horn" (rhino-ceros). Rhinoceroses are the only mammals with horns on their noses rather than on top of their heads.
  • Also known as the Indian rhino, the greater one-horned rhino only has one horn (male and female), unlike its African cousins.
  • It has very little body hair, apart from eyelashes, ear-fringes and tail-brush.

Physical Description

  • This prehistoric-looking rhinoceros has thick, silver-brown skin which becomes pinkish near the large skin folds that cover its body
  • Males develop thick neck-folds
  • Its upper legs and shoulders are covered in wart-like bumps


In historic times, the Indian rhino occurred in the sub-Himalayan region all along the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra River basins. It disappeared across much of its range over 300 years up to 1900. Trophy hunting and a bounty placed on rhinoceroses by tea growers (the animals chewed their crops) threatened their existence. By the beginning of the 20th century, the rhino was close to extinction. At that point there was a change in human treatment of the Indian rhino: hunting was halted and general legal protection was established.

Today, the biggest problems are that very little prime habitat remains and poachers shoot the animals for their horns and other parts, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine. In recent years, the greater one-horned Asian rhinoceros population has been growing slowly, thanks to habitat and protection programmes in places like Nepal's Royal Chitwan National Park.

Greater one-horned Asian rhinoceros Conservation

The rhino is a conservation success story. Strict protection measures meant that its population increased from 600 in 1975 to 2,400 in 2002.

WWF works with other NGOs and local communities to protect the greater one-horned rhino, supporting the management for national parks which provide its home. These parks and reserves include Kaziranga National Park; Manas National Park; Pobitora reserve forest; Orang National park; Laokhowa reserve forest in Assam; and Royal Chitwan National Park in Nepal.

	© WWF / Michel Gunther
Poaching remains a problem for greater one-horned (or Indian) rhinos (Rhinoceros unicornis).
© WWF / Michel Gunther



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