The weight of the Indian rhinoceros ranges between 1.8 and 3 t (2 to 3.3 tn.). Among land mammals, the Indian rhinoceros (along with the African white rhinoceros) is outweighed only by the elephant.
The rhinoceros's single horn, usually about 35 cm (14 in.) long, is made of compressed hair. It is not used for defence. Rather, the rhinoceros defends itself with the two long canine teeth in its lower jaw, with which it can make horrible gashes. It also has well-developed incisor teeth in its lower jaw. Large folds of skin at its joints and great rolls at its neck combine with the knob-like tubercles and large, horny plates that cover its grey body to give the rhinoceros an armour-plated appearance.
The Indian rhinoceros is a success story in rhino conservation. Indian rhinoceroses numbered fewer than 200 animals in the early part of the 1900s. With strict protection from Indian and Nepalese governments, the number has climbed over 2 000. Poaching and habitat loss are still the main concerns, and continued diligence is required.
Conservation objectives include: the maintenance of a wild population of at least 2 000 animals in at least six major sanctuaries in the current range of the species; translocation of animals to create new sanctuaries and populations; continued anti-poaching efforts; maintenance of a captive population capable of long-term viability to guard against any unforeseen extinction of the wild population; and reduction in the demand for rhinoceros products.