Today there are 5 surviving rhino species: Indian, Black, White, Sumatran and Javan. In March 2018, the last Northern White Rhino male passed away, leaving two females as the sole surviving members of the Northern subspecies of the White Rhino. The Southern White Rhino is currently near threatened, the Indian Rhino is vulnerable, and the other rhino species are critically endangered. The biggest threats to the continued survival of rhinos are habitat loss and poaching. Rhino horns, which are comprised of keratin (the same material in our fingernails and hair), fetch thousands of dollars on the black market (in 2012, rhino horns were worth $65K per kg - more than gold or cocaine). Although keratin has no medicinal value, rhino horns are used in Chinese Traditional Medicine, and in Vietnam they are erroneously thought to be a cure for cancer.
The subjects of Little Head Rest are Ashakiran and her son Kiran, who was born in the Toronto Zoo in early 2018. Watching them, I saw Kiran run in circles around his mom. During quieter moments, they would nuzzle and lie down together. There is something poignant about the combination of strength, tenderness and vulnerability of these creatures.
Throughout history, rhinos have inspired and amazed people. Some speculate that verbal accounts of the Indian Rhino inspired the unicorn myth. Even today, there is much that we don't know. Recently shot footage reveals that the White Rhino has rich social interactions when nighttime descends: