We currently have two male rhinos here at Edinburgh Zoo. Three year old, Qabid, arrived from Planckendael Zoo in Belgium in July 2018 and two year old Sanjay, arrived from Nuremberg Zoo, Germany on the 20th March 2019 to join him.
Edinburgh Zoo cares for juvenile male rhinos until they are old enough to be paired with a mate as part of the European breeding programme.
Greater one-horned rhinos (Rhinoceros unicornis) can be found in Assam, India and over the border into Nepal. They inhabit tall grass forests, but increasingly they have to use more cultivated land as man has encroached on their habitat. They use their semi-prehensile upper lip to grasp tall grasses but will also eat leaves, shrubs, bark and fruits.
Male rhinos are solitary, with unstructured, overlapping territories. Female rhinos are also solitary except when they are with their calves.
This species of rhino is more aquatic than others and readily swim and wade. It will also feed on aquatic grass-like plants. Indian rhinos have poor vision, however they make up for it with good hearing and sense of smell.
In the past, they could be found across the entire northern part of the Indian subcontinent. However populations have declined drastically due to habitat destruction, sport hunting, and poaching. The species was on the brink of extinction at the beginning of the 20th century. Strict protection by the Indian and Nepalese wildlife authorities has helped these populations to begin the long road of recovery.
They are still threatened by habitat quality loss due to severe invasion of alien plants and loss of wetlands and grasslands due to forest encroachment. Another severe threat is poaching, mainly for the use of the horn in traditional Chinese medicine.
A young greater one-horned rhinoceros has arrived at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo after travelling more than 600 miles across Europe.
Qabid, a two-and-a-half-year-old male around half the size of a fully grown adult, was lowered into his new home by crane after an overnight journey from Planckendael Zoo in Belgium.
Expert keepers at Edinburgh Zoo play a vital role in the conservation breeding programme for the species, taking care of teenage rhinos when they are ready to leave their mothers but are still too young to be paired with a mate.
Karen Stiven, senior keeper at Edinburgh Zoo, said: “We are very excited to welcome Qabid into our care and it’s great to see him settling in and exploring his new surroundings after his 600 mile journey from Belgium.
“We have a long history of rhino conservation at Edinburgh Zoo and an important role to play in the European breeding programme. In the wild, young male rhinos leave their mothers at around Qabid’s age and become solitary until they are old enough to breed.
“In the past we have raised two pairs of bachelor rhinos. Baabuu and Fanindra left in 2010 to be paired with females and have both successfully reproduced in the years since. We’re anticipating the same success for Samir who left in 2016 and Bertus who left earlier this year.
“We hope Qabid will be joined by another juvenile rhino soon and that they’ll follow in the footsteps of their predecessors when they are fully grown.”
Rhino species across the world are under increasing threat of extinction as a result of poaching and habitat loss. Greater one-horned rhinos are currently classed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.