Our next stop in our notebooking safari across Asia takes us to the Indonesian islands of Kalimantan and Sumatra. If you’re new to the notebooking safari, visit our first stop here.
If you’re ready, let’s head over to Sumatra and see if we can spot a very special kind of rhinoceros. There are five species of rhinoceroses living today; the white and the black rhinoceros live in Africa. There are three species of Asian rhinoceroses: the Indian, the Javan, and the Sumatran.
The Sumatran rhinoceros is the smallest species, but it’s not a little animal by any definition! It grows about eight feet (2.5 meters) long, five feet (1.5 meters) tall, and weighs around 1,800 pounds (816.5 kg) or less. That’s not an animal I want to make angry! But when you compare it to the Indian rhinoceros, you’ll see the difference. An Indian rhinoceros is one of the world’s largest land mammals. Only the white rhinoceros of Africa and both African and Asian elephants are larger. The Indian rhinoceros usually grows about eleven feet (3.3 meters) long, seven feet (2.13 meters) high, and weighs between 4,000-6,000 pounds (1.8-2.7 metric tons).
Come on, let’s head out into the forest and see if we can find a Sumatran rhinoceros for you to see up close—well, maybe not too close! There’s a big patch of bamboo about half of a mile from here that is a favorite spot for some of the Sumatran rhinoceroses in this area. If we don’t spot any there, we can climb that ridge you see off to your right and scout around for them. There are some groups of fruit trees up there that I’ve noticed the rhinoceroses like to visit. You wouldn’t think such a large animal could climb the ridge very well, but you’d be wrong! They can climb really well!
I hear something up ahead in the bamboo. Wait—it could be a rhinoceros, but it might be something else. Let’s get back here behind these shrubs, out of the way, and wait to see what comes this way.
Oh—oh, it is! Look at that. It’s the only species of rhinoceros that has hair! Do you see those patches of hair all over its hide? That hair helps the mud stick to its hide when it wallows. The mud keeps it cool and even keeps the insects away!
To see a picture of a Sumatran rhinoceros, click here.
To watch a Sumatran rhinoceros in the wild, click here.
Use this website to answer the following questions:
True or False:
1. The number of known Sumatran rhinoceroses living today is less than 500.
2. Sumatran rhinoceroses like to live alone.
3. A Sumatran rhinoceros finds others of its kind in the forest by using its sharp eyesight.
Research challenge: You read in the section above that the Sumatran rhinoceros’ hair helps keep the mud caked to their bodies, which helps them stay cool. Why would mud on their bodies make them cooler?
For a free downloadable copy of the entire Asian animals notebooking safari series (31 units total) plus a notebooking page for each one, sign up below.