The nature and animal park Terra Natura Benidorm has taken a further step in the conservation of the Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis). The zoo has introduced a new male rhinoceros into the group of the species that inhabits its installations. The inclusion of this new specimen aims to encourage the reproduction of this animal, which is threatened, and thus promote its conservation.
Terra Natura Benidorm is a referent in the conservation of this species, since in 2012 it became the first Spanish zoo to reproduce an Indian rhinoceros. In Spain there is no other zoo that has four specimens of this species, and in Europe there are only two other centers that have a group formed by this number of specimens.
The new male, called Tarun, has been moved from Wroclaw Zoo (Wroclaw) within the European Reproduction Programme (EEP) of this species, which is managed by EAZA, with the aim of reproducing with one of the two females, Shiwa or Nisha. This male is nine years old and weighs around 2,000 kilos. He shows a quite calm character towards the caretakers.
Tarun has perfectly overcome the adaptation period that began when he arrived at Terra Natura Benidorm last October. In a first phase, the rhinoceros was in the reserve area getting used to the caretakers and their new environment and after a few weeks of acclimatization was moved to another place and finally to the different pastures prepared for this species.
Relationships with members of the species group are uneven. As is normal, when Tarun crosses with the other male, Nico, he is aggressive and threatening. With the females the behavior is changeable, sometimes they are ignored, sometimes they greet each other or sometimes they are defiant with them. The species has the capacity to reproduce after the age of seven in males and four years in the case of females.
Indian rhinos have a gestation period of 16 months. The species is endangered, although conservation efforts have enabled its populations to increase. Currently, work is being done to diversify the areas where it lives. Two of the greatest threats to this species are illegal hunting and habitat loss. Although poachers kill these animals to get their horn, there is no scientific evidence to support their properties as medicine or aphrodisiac.