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Sumatran rhinos are the smallest and hairiest of all five rhino species and the only Asian species of rhino which boasts two horns, although females generally have more of a stump than prominent horn.  They are easily distinguishable by their reddish brown skin and hair.  Sumatran calves are born with a dense covering of hair, which usually turn an orange-brown as they enter adolescence and becomes sparser and more bristly as they reach adulthood.  It’s this covering of hair that lends them the nickname the “hairy rhinos”.

The species hold the record for being the only surviving member of the most primitive group of rhinos, the Dicerorhinini, which emerged during the Miocene, 15-20 million years ago and is closely related to the extinct woolly rhinoceros (Coelodonta antiquitatis), which lived in Europe and Asia until 10,000 years ago.  Of all three Asian species of rhino, the Sumatran is most closely related to the black and white rhinos of Africa.

Like the other species of Asian rhino, the Sumatran is under threat due to poaching, but also habitat loss caused human encroachment.  Once ranging over several thousand miles across Southeast Asia, from the foothills of the Himalayas to the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, the can now only be found in the national parks of Bukit Barisan Selatan and Gunung Leuser.species such as Arenga palm which leaves the habitat barren of food.

Scientific name:

Diceohinus sumatrensis


The hairy rhinos


Western Sumatran - Diceohinus sumatrensis sumatrensis

Eastern Sumatran (aka Borneo rhino) - Diceohinus sumatrensis harrissoni

Northern Sumatran - Diceohinus sumatrensis lasiotis

IUCN conservation status:

Western Sumatran - Critically endangered (CR)

Eastern Sumatran (aka Borneo rhino) - Critically endangered (CR)

Northern Sumatran - Extinct

CITES appendix status:

Appendix. I

Wild population:

An estimated 70 - 80 individuals


National parks of Bukit Barisan Selatan and Gunung Leuser.

Extinct in the wild in Malaysia (according to a study in August 2015)


Dense tropical forests


Browse and wild fruits

The Sumatran rhino is a browser

Average height:

1 - 1.5 meters

Average weight:

600kg - 950kg

Average length:

2 - 3 meters

Skin colour:

Reddish-brown skin with sparse, bristly hair

Average horn length:

Front horn: 25cm to 78cm

Rear horn: 7.5cm


40 - 50km/h (running)




Can be quite aggressive

Average lifespan:

30 - 40 years (in the wild)

Up to 50 in captivity


15 to 16 months

Birth intervals:

3 - 4 years

Sexual maturity:

6 -7 years (females)

10 years (males)

Fun facts:

Sumatran rhinos are quite agile and can make a turn of 180 degrees in one single jump

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