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Keywords:

  • animal care;
  • behaviour;
  • black rhinoceros;
  • greater one-horned rhinoceros;
  • human-rhinoceros conflict;
  • husbandry;
  • in situ conservation;
  • Javan rhinoceros;
  • reproduction;
  • Sumatran rhinoceros;
  • white rhinoceros

All species of rhinoceros are, to varying degrees, threatened with extinction because of poaching, habitat loss, human-rhinoceros conflict, hunting and civil unrest. Clearly the threats facing the five remaining species (Black rhinoceros Diceros bicornis, White rhinoceros Ceratotherium simum, Greater one-horned rhinoceros Rhinoceros unicornis, Javan rhinoceros Rhinoceros sondaicus and Sumatran rhinoceros Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) are anthropogenic. Although many disciplines are important for conservation, understanding the behaviour characteristics of a species should be considered a key component when developing wildlife-management and conservation strategies. A general overview of the behaviour of rhinoceros is presented, addressing ecology and social organization, activity and habitat use, feeding strategies, courtship and reproduction, and anti-predator behaviour. The implications of behavioural studies for successful management and husbandry of rhinoceros in captivity are discussed in sections on group size and composition, enclosure design and enrichment programmes, activity patterns, introductions, reproduction, hand-rearing, and health and stress. Finally, there is some discussion about the implications of this knowledge for in situ conservation in relation to designing protected areas, further aspects of animal health and stress, and reintroduction and translocation. A detailed understanding of rhinoceros behaviour is important for survival both in range-country protected areas and captivity, and such knowledge should be used to provide the most appropriate animal care and environments for these species.