rhinoceros. All five species of rhinoceros are distinguished by their large size, thick
armor-like skin, three-toed feet, and single or double snout horn. The Javan rhinoceros,
along with the Sumatran rhinoceros, is one of two forest-dwelling species. The
Javan rhinoceros is similar in appearance to the Indian rhinoceros, but smaller and
with certain distinguishing characteristics (primarily skin texture).
Rhinoceroses are often depicted standing up to their snouts in water or mud. In fact,
they can frequently be found just like that. When not resting in a river, rhinos will
dig deep pits in which to wallow. Both of these resting places provide a couple of
advantages. First, they give the animal relief from the tropical heat and protection
from blood-sucking flies. (The mud that the wallow leaves on the skin of the rhinoceros
provides some protection from flies, also.) Second, mud wallows and river water
help support the considerable weight of these huge animals, thereby relieving the
strain on their legs and backs.
Folklore has long held that the horn of the rhinoceros possesses magical and aphrodisiacal
powers, and that humans who gain possession of the horns will gain those
powers, also. This is one of the reasons why rhinos are a prime target of poachers.
All species of rhinoceros are in danger, and the Javan rhino population is the most
precarious. Fewer than 100 of these animals are still living. At one time, Javan rhinos
could be found throughout southeastern Asia, but they are now believed to exist
only in Indonesia and Vietnam.