Rhinoceroses or rhinos are massive and large seized odd-toed ungulates from the family Rhinocerotidae. There are five living species of rhinos, three of which are native to South and South-East Asia, and two to Africa. Rhinos are well-known for their massive size and the distinctive feature of having one or two horns above the nose.
They are dangerous animals and are known to charge humans and other animals when provoked or feel threatened. In this article, we gathered information about how dangerous are rhinos, do they attack humans, do they charge, and human activities that provoke their aggression.
How Dangerous Are Rhinos?
Rhinos are extremely powerful creatures that can be dangerous in certain situations. They have large sizes, thick hides, and sharp horns that make them intimidating opponents. Rhinos are known to charge humans when either provoked or threatened.
Also Read: How many Rhinos are left in the world?
Because of their bigger size and strength, even a single rhino can cause significant damage to animals or humans when it charges at full speed. Rhinos also have a bite force of about 1,000 PSI, however, they are herbivorous animals and their teeth are not like that of predators.
Additionally, their poor vision makes them unpredictable and potentially dangerous in some situations because they can not quickly recognize whether something is a threat or not.
Despite their strength, rhinos usually do not pose a significant threat to humans until they are disturbed by activities like poaching or encroaching on their habitat. So humans need to stay away from their habitat and never disturb or approach them.
Do Rhinos Attack Humans?
Rhinos usually do not attack humans until they are provoked or feel threatened. Their attacks on humans are very rare and usually occur when humans intrude into their territory.
White rhinos are more calm and gregarious and just run away when they feel threatened. Black rhinos are however very nervous and can be aggressive. They would attack or charge in reaction when they feel threatened.
Causes Of Conflict Between Rhinos And Humans
A variety of factors causes conflicts between rhinos and humans. It includes competition for resources like water and food, habitat destruction because of human activities, and poaching for horns and other body parts.
Additionally, introducing other non-native species into their territories also leads to conflict. Human intrusion into their natural habitat has also been known to cause rhino disruption and can result in increased conflicts between rhinos and people settled nearby.
Incidents Of Rhino Attacks On Humans
Incidents of rhino attacks on humans are rare, however, they do happen and the results of such incidents are devastating for both humans as well as rhinos. The average number of rhino attacks on humans (in which humans are killed) is about two to three per year.
Rhinos have been known to charge at people only if they perceive them as a threat. Aggressive rhinos in Chitwan National Park (Nepal) charge jeeps and Land Rovers each year and sometimes people are trampled with their feet or gored with their horns. So it is important to take great caution when near wild rhinos.
Human Activities That Provoke Rhino Aggression
Human activities that provoke rhino aggression include encroaching on their habitat, disturbing them when they are resting or feeding, and getting too close to their calves. So it is important to stay away from their natural habitat and never approach them or their calves directly.
Can You Survive Rhino Attack?
Surviving a rhino attack is difficult because this animal is not only powerful but also very fast. To increase your survival chances, it is important to stay calm and frozen in your place.
Running away from a rhino is the worst thing to do because no human can outrun this animal. The second thing is that rhinos have poor vision and react to movements. So if you stay completely calm at your place and avoid moving, they would not perceive you as a threat.
If there is a tree or boulder, you should quickly scramble up. If there are thick bushes, you can also take shelter there.
Understanding Rhino Charges And Their Reasons
Rhinos charge if they feel threatened. Rhinos are extremely protective of their territories and calves and will charge towards the threat. Their charges are sometimes so quick and fast that they even charge at trees and rocks.
Their poor vision is a great factor in their charges that does not allow them to perceive objects correctly. Beyond 27 meters (90 feet) they can not see well and usually react to the movements of things.
However, they have excellent senses of hearing and smell, so when they detect unfamiliar sounds or smells, their propensity is to charge toward them. All species of rhinos do not charge quickly without provocation. Of all the five species, the black rhino is well-known for charging without provocation.
Impact Of Rhino Charges On Humans And Other Animals
The impacts of rhino charges are devastating to humans as well as to other animals. Humans could be severely injured or even die due to the powerful force of a rhino’s charge. Other animals may suffer from physical injuries, habitat destruction, and natural ecosystem disruption. Their charges can change the predator-and-prey dynamics and food webs in their natural habitat and make it difficult for other animals to survive and flourish.
Severity Of Injuries Caused By Rhino Horns
Rhinos have been known to cause severe injuries to humans with their horns. In some cases, their horns penetrate through the skin and muscles, causing deep cuts or even limb amputation (loss or removal of a body part). The sharpness of their horn together with their size make them potentially dangerous weapons.