Why Do Rhinos Put Out Fires? Is It a Myth or Reality?

Rhinoceros are one of the most majestic animals alive. Over the centuries many myths and folklore were created about the animal. Even in the 19th century, they were mistaken to be affiliated to unicorns, the imaginary creature.

One of the myths about rhinoceroses is that they are attracted to a campfire and will put it out as soon as it sees one. Though it sounds mysterious and magical it is undoubtedly a myth.

Do Rhinos Put Out Fires

Do Rhinos Put Out Fires?

Rhinoceroses are peaceful creatures. They live singly or with a calf. Though Rhinos are huge (about 6 feet tall, 13 feet long, and up to 2300 kilograms), they have a natural aversion to flames. They are rather cowardly creatures. They’d rather flee the blazing place than stomp and put it out.

Rhinos do not stomp out fires. They are scared of it. Just as any other animal would be. However, the Rhinoceros has a keen sense of smell and can be irritated by the smoke.

Badak Api – The Fire Rhino

Badak api is a Malay word. “Badak” means rhino and “API” means flames. It is a legendary creature found in the folklore of Southeast Asia. Legend has it that the creature devours flames whenever it comes across one. Thus, it helps to protect the woods.

In many places, the people of the jungle are even found to worship the creature and make photos and sculptures of it. The European explorers worked as the media to carry this myth from the east to the west. However, the whole thing is imaginary and has no scientific proof or potential evidence.

The myth has been alive from very long ago. But only a few people interested in ancient stories knew about it. However, modern television and magazine media has added fuel to the fire.

In the 1980s the movie “The Gods Must Be Crazy” there is seen a rhinoceros that runs to a campfire and stomps it out. Since the release of the movie, this tale has become more and more popular.

The tale was also adopted in the cartoon series “The Simpsons”. Finally, holding hands with the modern satellite media the folklore encircled the globe. From Africa to Europe to Asia it has been known.

Animals That Put Out a Fire

Animals don’t actively help to put out blazes. However, many of their actions help prevent a bonfire or a forest fire. Herbivores such as ungulates, deers, buffalos, etc eat up the grass and dry bushes. Those are the causes of flames. They are known as the “fine fuel” plants. Such as leaves, grass, twigs, branches, etc.

These are highly flammable plants. They can easily catch on fire and cause the flames to spread dangerously.

By eating up the dry plants and grasses they help decrease the probability of the fire to spread. Thus the animals protect the African Savannah just by leading their usual lives. And that is so amazing.

Hippos Putting Out Flames

African folklore and myths know no bounds. The humongous ancient jungle and the people living in it feed on these myths. These stories are like an escape for them from the struggling life they have to lead fighting against nature. Nature is not easily tamed and they have been doing it effectively for centuries.

From this massive stream of stories and mythical creatures, one says that hippos are attracted to fires. It says that whenever hippos see the flames no matter if it is burning in human camps, they’d rush to it and stomp it out.

Explorers and hunters had to set their camps near water supplies in the wild. It was easier for them to use the open area by the rivers at that time. Surprisingly hippopotamuses get pissed off if there is something between them and their water.

Angry hippo

As a result, they often had to encounter hippos. So it is however true that hippos have attacked campsites knocked off supplies and stomped out flames. But it was certainly not intentional and there is no scientific evidence yet to prove it. These are simply stories created by locals and fueled by dreaming explorers, novelists, and movies.

4 Myths About Rhinoceroses

Rhinoceroses are some of the creatures that have been adapted to African and Asian folklore and ancient stories. Especially their horns were adopted as some sort of heavenly or magical healing organ. The struggling people always had to believe in something.

Big horned rhinoceros

Humans always found a way to entertain themselves. In ancient times the media was stories and myths. These old stories were told by the older people to the children. They found joy and happiness through sharing these and keeping them alive. Some of the myths were also related to the religion and beliefs of people. Some of the tales about the animal are as follows,

  1. In some parts of Europe, rhinos were thought to be related to unicorns.
  2. Rhino horns are still thought to have medicinal properties. In ancient Chinese medicine, the horn is found to be the cure for strong diseases such as cancer, typhoid, snake bites, carbuncles, and devil possession. In Vietnam, the demand for their horns has yet not decreased. For this reason, the Rhinoceros is being murdered by the number of thousands each year.
  3. Asian cultures also have the belief of the rhino horn possesses some sort of magical power that increases the sexual desire of men.
  4. The horn is also considered a party drug. It is sold in huge amounts in Europe and Asia. It is thought to be a drug of class and status which is complete bullcrap. It is even more expensive than cocaine.


Do rhinos put out fires? No, they don’t. It is just a popular theory that is practiced in movies and old stories. They are like just any other animal and fear the deadly blazes. They’d rather run away from it let alone chase toward and stomp it out.

Read More:

  1. How Strong is a Rhino? Disastrous Videos Included
  2. Are Rhinos Intelligent? How to Train a Rhino?
  3. How Much Does a Rhino Cost
  4. Do Rhinos Have Predators? Top 5 Predators that can kill Rhinos
  5. Can Rhinos Swim? You Will Be Surprised!
  6. How Many Toes Does a Rhino Have on Each Foot?
  7. What Sound Does a Rhino Make? Sound Effects Included

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Team Animalia Facts

"Team Animal Facts" is an expert group of wildlife enthusiasts who are impassioned for mysteries of animal life and dedicated to exploring them.

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