Rhinoceros unicornis

Interesting notes

  • Original Skin Mounted Specimen
  • Ex – Zoo inmates (Mani & Rita)

Technique involved – Taxidermy

  • This technique was born in England (18thcentury). In earlier periods when new species of mammals, fowl and fish were still being discovered, naturalists sought to preserve them for classification.  The discovery of the preservative properties of arsenic, taxidermy advanced by leaps and bounds.  Taxidermists stretch the animal’s skin over sculpted molds, or mannequins, typically made from polyurethane foam.

Chemicals and Method used

  • Salt –  Borax and alum is used. Hide is salted for preservation, salt pulls the moisture from the skin and tightens up the hair follicles. While the skin dries out, the mold is prepared. Older methods of creating molds include wire frames and paper mache, but polyurethane foam is the medium of choice these days. The molds are incredibly accurate and detailed, with muscles and veins carved into place. After sewing or gluing the skin shut around the mold, glass eyes are inserted into the sockets and the specimen is mounted onto a wooden plaque.

About the animal

  • The Indian and Javan rhinoceroses, the only members of the genus Rhinoceros.
  • Native to the Indian subcontinent.
  • Single horn made of pure keratin is present in both males and females.
  • Second-largest living rhinoceros, behind only the white rhinoceros.
  • Are grazers, but they also eat leaves, branches of shrubs and trees, fruits, and submerged and floating aquatic plants.
  • Birds like mynahs and egrets both eat invertebrates from the rhino’s skin and around its feet and maintains a symbiotic relationship.
  • It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, as populations are fragmented and restricted to less than 20,000 km2.
  • Its most important habitat, the alluvial Terai-Duar savanna and grasslands and riverine forest, is considered to be in decline due to human and livestock encroachment.
  • Rhinos have been killed for its horn, which is revered for medicinal use in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. The horn is also valued in North Africa and the Middle East as an ornamental dagger handle.
  • The horn is used as a medicine and an aphrodisiac. Medicinal purposes are as a pain reliever and a fever suppressant. Sadly; there is no scientific backing behind these unethical uses.