Black Rhino in dry grass fields
Black Rhino

Why Do Rhinos Charge?

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  • Post category:Rhinos
  • Post last modified:25 March 2022
  • Reading time:8 mins read

Do not be fooled by the gentle look of a rhino. Rhinos are considered one of the most dangerous animals on the planet.

Rhinos charge because they feel threatened. When they feel like a person or animal is a threat to them, they will quickly charge towards it. Rhinos are very protective of their space and often quick to react to a charge, so fast that sometimes they even charge at rocks or trees.

Now we know why a rhino charges; it’s also essential to understand their physiology and behaviour that would signify their intent to charge or attack.

Right after the elephantsrhinos are the second-largest land mammals on Earth. They can be easily distinguished from other mammals through their muscled bodies, big horns, and thick skin. Their massive structure helps them to stay protected from all kinds of predators. 

Although these big animals prefer to keep to themselves, they might form small groups only on rare occasions. Other than that, they prefer to be alone and can become very dangerous whenever they smell any threat.

The biggest threat to a rhino

Humans are considered to be the biggest threat to rhinos. Humans have hunted down different species of rhinos, but they have also destroyed their living habitat in the name of development.

Moreover, illegal poaching has caused the extinction of some rhino species. Like African and Asian elephants are hunted down for their tusks.

African and Javan rhinos are poached for their horns also. Rhino horns are considered extremely valuable as they fetch a high value. In Asia, rhino horns are used for making medicines for specific ailments, whereas, in Northern Africa, the horns are used to make daggers. Hence the desire that these poachers don’t even hesitate to kill these animals.

Adult Rhinos

In contrast to young rhinos, adult rhinos have few predators. However, they charge without thinking due to their dangerous, suspicious nature, especially whenever they can’t see clearly. A rhino charge is their best form of self-defence.

Scenarios When A Rhino Will Charge

A rhino can charge individuals under the following conditions. They are:

Protection of Baby Rhino:

Mother rhinos are protective of their babies. So if you try to mess with the little ones, be ready to run for your life. The mother rhinos will charge you with their sharp horns till you are out of its sight and well away from the baby rhino.

Startling A Rhino:

You must be aware of the fact that rhinos have poor eyesight. They can’t determine whether the visitor is a friend or an enemy standing in front of them. So their first reaction is to charge the threat away from their territory. Never think of coming in front of a rhino suddenly to have a closer glimpse of it. The results will be unwelcoming.

Approaching A Rhino:

Don’t even think of approaching a rhino in open habitat. There is a high chance that you will get brutally attacked and killed by the rhino. There won’t be any hiding places for you unless you are good at climbing trees.

Do rhinos charge because they have a bad temper?

People think that rhinos only charge because they have a terrible temper. But, rhinos are also not very good at seeing things clearly and can be easily alarmed. So when they see something coming towards them, even if it is a non-threat, a rhino will instantly charge with their horns. 

While on a safari, the lucky ones who have spotted rhinos might have witnessed the grumpy nature of the rhinos. If they are watched from a distance, one will see them as shy and gentle animals that love to wander alone. But if anyone ventures very close to it, they would get to see its aggressive side. After all, the rhino won’t think twice before charging you. 

As they have poor eyesight, it becomes hard for them to decipher whether the approaching human or animal is friendly or not. However, they have a keen sense of sound and smell. A large portion of the rhino brain is dedicated to its olfactory senses giving them a perfect sense of smell.

Black Rhinos Vs White Rhinos Charging

In the case of rhinos, the tendency to charge predators on feeling threatened is very much high from a Black rhino and not so much from a White Rhino. This is because a Black rhino is more aggressive and is known to show a much higher erratic behaviour.

Recommended Read: Five Different Species of Rhinos

When a rhino charges it’s the horns that inflict the most damage, see below a table of which rhino species have one or two horns.

Rhino SpeciesAmount
Black Rhino (Female)Two Horns
Black Rhino (Male)Two Horns
Jarvan Rhino (Female)One Horn
Jarvan Rhino (Male)One Horn
Sumatran Rhino (Female)Two Horns
Sumatran Rhino (Male)Two Horns
The Greater One-Horned Rhino (Female)One Horn
The Greater One-Horned Rhino (Male)One Horn
White Rhino (Female)Two Horns
White Rhino (Male)Two Horns
Horns of male and female rhino species

How To Survive A Rhino Attack?

There are many ways to avoid any confrontation with rhinos. We will share some tips to survive a rhino attack in the remainder of this post.

At any cost, you shouldn’t approach a rhinoceros. But in the event you are in a face-to-face situation with the largest mammal, here are a few tips that someone should do.

Stand Still

Rhinos can’t see well. So try to remain still, and the rhino might not consider you a threat to them.

Climb a Tree

If you find any trees nearby, climb up the tree. If there are no trees around, try to climb up on anything a few feet high, which they can’t reach. Remember that rhinos can’t climb, so you are safer from their attack in a tree rather than on the ground.

Hide Behind Shrubs

There are some spiny shrubs in Africa, so if there are no other options to climb, hide behind the shrub. Rhinos will unlikely follow you behind the spiny bushes.

Run Zig-Zag

It would help if you tried to run in a zig-zag pattern. This running pattern might confuse the rhino or miss any turns you do. Thereby, you will be able to remain safe from any attack.

Stay in a Vehicle

Run and get seated in your Safari vehicle as soon as possible. This will help you get away to a safe distance very quickly.

These are some tried and tested ways to survive a rhino attack. It’s better to avoid any confrontation with rhinos.

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Teresa Milne

Teresa is learning zoology and loves to share her knowledge through her articles. She has some pets that she adores two dogs, two cats, and one hamster. Teresa has also studied canine behaviour and canine nutrition.